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t to Context 

and Islamic Calligraphy 



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Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1986 



From Concept to Context 

Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy 



by Shen Fu, Glenn D. Lowry, and Ann Yonemura 




This catalogue was edited, designed, produced, 
and distributed by the Smithsonian Institution 
Press on the occasion of an exhibition held at the 
Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, 
Washington, D.C., July 29-Novcmber 16, 1986. 

© 1986 by Smithsonian Institution. All rights 
reserved. 

Cover: Detail from handscroll, cat. no. 28. 
Calligraphy by Hon'ami Koetsu, early 
seventeenth century. The poems arc from the 
Kokiti wakashft; ink, gold, and silver on paper. 

Library ot Congress Cataloging-in-Publication 
Data 

Freer Gallery of Art. 
From concept to context. 

Catalog ot an exhibition to be held July 29— Nov. 
16, 1986 at the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, 
D.C. 

Bibliography: p. 
Supt. of Docs, no.: SI 7.2:C76 
I. Calligraphy, Chinese — Exhibitions. 2. Callig- 
raphy, Japanese — Exhibitions. 3. Calligraphy, 
Islamic — Exhibitions. I. Fu, Shen, 1937- . II. 
Lowry, Glenn D. III. Yonemura, Ann, 1947- . 
IV. Title. 

NK3634.A2F74 1986 745.6' 199 86-45434 
ISBN 0-87474-447-4 

©The paper used in this publication meets the 
minimum requirements ot the American Na- 
tional Standard for Permanence of Paper tor 
Printed Library Materials Z39. 48-1984. 

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents 
U.S. Government Printing Office 
Washington, D.C. 20402 
Stock number: 047-000-00403-9 



Contents 



Foreword 8 

Acknowledgments lo 

Introduction to Asian Calligraphy ii 

Chinese Calligraphy i6 

Japanese Calligraphy 62 
Introduction to Islamic Calligraphy 102 
Selected Bibliography with Abbreviations 150 
Lists of Names and Terms 152 

Chinese 152 

Japanese 157 

Arabic, Persian, and Turkish 160 
List of Accession and Catalogue Numbers 164 



This special exhibition entitled From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian 
and Islamic Calligraphy, presented by the Freer Gallery of Art, coincides with 
the twenty-sixth Comite International d'Histoire de I'Arte in Washington, 
D.C., August 11-17, 1986. hideed, the theme of the exhibition is closely 
related to one of the major topics included for discussion at a session of this 
international meeting, "The Written Word in Art and as Art." 

Many of the examples of Chinese, Japanese, and Near Eastern calligra- 
phy in this exhibition entered the Freer collection only recently, and a few are 
being shown by the museum for the first time. Moreover, this exhibition is 
the first comprehensive display of Asian and Islamic calligraphy ever installed 
by the Freer Gallery. 

Ann Yonemura, assistant curator of Japanese art, and Shen Fu, curator of 
Chinese art, collaborated in writing the introduction to the Chinese and Japa- 
nese sections of the catalogue. In addition, these same scholars provided the 
essays and individual entries within their areas of expertise. Glenn D. Lowry, 
curator of Near Eastern art, wrote the essay and entries for the Islamic portion 
of this catalogue. 

Far Eastern calligraphy is dominated by the innovations of the Chinese. 
The script, developed in China during the second millennium B.C., evolved 
with remarkable variety during the succeeding centuries. The historical and 
cultural connotations associated with each of the traditional Chinese scripts 
point to a stylistic sequence that provides guideposts for readily identifying 
and dating the scripts. 

The admiration for Chinese culture, the spread of Buddhism, and the 
secular requirements of commerce stimulated the use of Chinese scripts 
throughout Asia. What remains so remarkable about the dispersion of Chi- 
nese writing is that the images and concepts, which already were tully 
evolved, were even further transformed and interpreted by non-Chinese 
artists into new and fresh forms that transcend their prototypes and reflect 
nuances of quite separate cultural backgrounds. 

In the Near East, religion and trade also were crucial forces in the evolu- 
tion of Islamic calligraphy. The spread of Islam and the reverence for the 
Qur'an required scribes who could imbue their writing with a heightened 
aesthetic sensitivity. Arabic was also the language of trade in the dauntingly 
vast expanses that stretched from the Mediterranean world in the west to the 
Chinese empire in the east. A reflection of that importance can be seen on the 
caches of linguistically polyglot documents f ound among the trade routes in 
Central Asia. Admiration for the elegance of Arabic script in China can also 
been seen on the Chinese metal and porcelain objects embellished with auspi- 
cious Arabic phrases. 

Each of the calligraphic examples included in this special exhibition may 
be appreciated purely for its aesthetic qualities, without regard to its specific 



meaning or provenance, whether Asia or the Near East — tor aesthetic subtle- 
ties had quickly become, even in calligraphy 's early history, essential to criti- 
cally evaluating a work. Yet, no written image or text can be appreciated in 
isolation of the culture and time in which it was produced. Concentrated 
in the written characters included in this exhibition are the sophisticated in- 
tellectual concepts and the stylistic traditions of millennia-old civilizations. 

Faced with works of Chinese, Japanese, or Near Eastern calligraphy, we 
can begin by deciphering the basic meaning. But there remains to understand 
the subtle allusions and complex stylistic references to the past. It is exactly 
those allusions and references that are necessary to appreciate fully Asian and 
Islamic calligraphy. We recognize that to achieve a deep appreciation is a 
formidable task and one that can be accomplished only by learning more 
about the cultures and the people of the Far and the Near East. This special 
exhibition is, we hope, a modest step in the direction toward understanding. 
As we understand the traditions of other civilizations, we at the same time 
inevitably enrich our own. 

Thomas Lawton 
Director 
March 1986 



Foreword 9 



/ 



Acknowledgments 



Collectively, the authors would like to express their appreciation for the ex- 
cellent editing and great patience of Jane McAllister and for the sensitive 
design and balanced eye of Carol Beehler. Both are on the staff of the Smith- 
sonian Institution Press. 

Although the exhibition itself is largely a separate undertaking from the 
catalogue, the authors would like to take this opportunity to thank Patrick 
Sears for his exhibition design and Robert Evans, Cornell Evans, Francis 
Smith, John Bradley, Martin Amt, Craig Korr, and James Smith for their 
successful implementation of his concept. 

As useful as word processors have become, the authors still relied heavily 
on Lisa Lubey and Elsie Kronenburg-Lee for producing various drafts and 
the fmal copy ot the manuscript. James Hayden and John Tsantes are to be 
credited with the photographs that show Freer objects in such great detail. 
The authors would also like to thank Freer librarians Ellen Nollman and Lily 
Kecskes for their valuable assistance. Freer Director Thomas Lawton and 
Assistant Director Richard Louie provided general guidance and steady sup- 
port throughout the project. 

The authors appreciate the cooperation from various institutions that 
have granted permission to use their illustrations for reference in this cata- 
logue. They include Musee du Louvre, Victoria and Albert Museum, Fogg 
Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Arthur M. Houghton Collec- 
tion, and Staatsbibliothek fiir Preussicher Kulturbesitz (Berlin). 

Dr. Lowry is grateful to Dr. Christopher Murphy ot the Library of 
Congress for providing a synopsis of the firman of Sultan Ahmed, and to 
Mr. Ibrahim Pourhadi of the Library of Congress and Professor Annemarie 
Schimmel of Harvard University for their help in translating several of the 
calligraphies in the exhibition. He also expresses his indebtedness to Dr. 
Z. A. Desai, formerly with the Archeological Survey of India, for his many 
insights into sixteenth-century Persian and Indian calligraphy and for his help 
in translating one of the verses by Mir All, and to Muhammad Zakariya for 
his calligraphy, which has been used in both the catalogue and the exhibition. 

Dr. Fu wants to acknowledge his use or adaptation of Jonathan Chaves's 
translations of poems by Wang Chong and Huang Shen and a couplet by Fu 
Shan. Ann Yonemura is grateful to Professor Yoshiaki Shimizu for making 
available his extensive curatorial research on several of the exhibited works, 
and for providing readings of the poems in catalogue number 24. 



10 



Introduction to Asian Calligraphy 



Calligraphy is regarded in China and Japan as the supreme artistic achieve- 
ment, enjoying a prestige surpassed by no other art. Painting, which uses the 
same basic materials of brush and ink on paper or occasionally silk, became 
the sister art of calligraphy, while poetry, for its expression, is linked insepa- 
rably to writing. The practice and appreciation of calligraphy written with 
brush and ink are cultural values shared throughout East Asia. Undertaken 
by all educated men and women as a lifelong study, calligraphy is a conspicu- 
ous manifestation of cultivation and character, and is the most widely re- 
spected art form. 

The written language of China was the original source of the writing 
systems of East Asia, and has functioned as a unifying cultural force in a 
region of diverse ethnic groups and mutually unintelligible spoken languages. 
The aesthetic and representational qualities of Chinese scripts and the vast 
corpus of religious, literary, and scientific writings in Chinese impelled the 
continued use of the language and writing system by the Koreans and the 
Japanese even after the development of convenient phonetic scripts for repre- 
senting the sounds of their own languages. 

From the earliest appearance of writing in China, certain characteristics 
of the writing system were established. Chinese is written with ideographic 
characters, symbols conveying meaning with no fixed relationship to sound 
as in phonetic alphabets. Many of the characters were pictographic in origin. 
The earliest surviving inscriptions in Chinese contain many characters having 
forms that directly suggest their meanings. 

In time, the forms of the characters became more abstract and standard- 
ized so that characters could be composed of individual elements that would 
provide new meanings in combination. The vast expansion of possible sym- 
bols resulting from such combinations of standard components resulted in 
the invention of tens of thousands of characters, with several thousand re- 
quired for general use. Some characters incorporate a phonetic element that is 
located according to convention on the right side. Elements that express 
meaning are placed to the left, top, or bottom of the character. More specific 
meanings can be conveyed by the association of two or more characters to 
form compound words. 

The major Chinese script types are described in the table on page 12. Of 
these, the scripts of greatest antiquity — those preserved m inscriptions on 
oracle bones (C: jiagiiwen) and in cast inscriptions on ceremonial bronzes (C: 
jitiweri or zhongdingweti) — were well adapted to being carved or incised, and 
did not have a major role in the later development of scripts adapted to writ- 
ing with the brush. They were not transmitted to Japan, which had no native 
writing system until Chinese characters were introduced in the fifth cen- 
tury A.D. 

In the calligraphic art of China and Japan, five major script types may be 



Introduction to Asian Calligraphy 11 



distinguished, each having distinct formal and compositional characteristics 
and expressive possibilities. The contrasts among the script types, both 
aesthetically and in terms of their convenience for writing and reading, led to 
some general functional distinctions and preferences. 

Seal script (C: zlinatishu; j: tetisho), subclassified as greater seal (C: da- 
zhuati, ca. eighth century B.C.) and lesser seal (C: xiaozliuaii, third century 
B.C.) scripts, for example, with its lines of even width, was suitable for carved 
inscriptions such as those on seals, but was also employed for contrast in 
large titles. Seal script had an important historical role in gradually standard- 
izing the forms of individual characters and establishing consistency in their 
arrangement into vertical columns to be read from the top of each line begin- 
ning at the upper right. 

Clerical script (C: lishu, second century B.C.; J: reislw), the first systematic 
script to be written with a brush, continued in China to be used for official 



Major Chinese Script Types 


Period 


Chinese 
Terms 


Pinyin 


Wade-Giles 


Japanese 


Variations ot 

Enghsh 
Translations 


I3th-i ith 
centuries 

B.C. 




luguwen 


chia-ku-wcn 




oracle-bone script 


i3th-4th 
centuries 

B.C. 




jinwen 

zhongdiiigwen 


chin-wen 
chung-ting-wcn 




bronze script 


ca. 8th 
century 

B.C. 




ciazhuan 


ta-chuan 


tensho 


greater 
large 


seal script 


3d century 

B.C. 




xiaozhuan 


hsiao-chuan 


small 
lesser 
standard 


seal script 


A.D. 2d 
century 




lishu 


H-shu 


reisho 


clerical 
orticial 


script 


since a.d. 
4th century 


^* 
H * 


caoshu 

xingsliu 

kaishu 


ts'ao-shu 
hsing-shu 
k'ai-sliu 


sosho 

gyosho 

kaisho 


cursive 
grass 

semicursive 
running 

standard 
regular 


script 
script 
script 



writings, and its dignified, formal quality was also appreciated in artistic 
calligraphy. This script was, however, relatively little-used in Japan until the 
Edo period (i6i 5-1868), when Japanese scholars specializing in Chinese 
studies studied and practiced Chinese archaic scripts. 

Standard or regular script (C: kaishu; ]: kaisho), fully evolved by the Sui 
(581-618) and Tang (618-907) periods, became the basis for most study of 
calligraphy in later times. Standard script combines clearly legible individual 
strokes, each employing inner movements of the brush, into a clearly legible 
form. Its pleasing, balanced proportions and consistent stroke order and 
structure were practical for writing, reading, and even carving into stone tor 
monumental inscriptions or on woodblocks for printing. 

Semicursive script (C: xingshu; ]: gydsho), a more fluid script written 
with many connected strokes, had its beginnings in innovations made in the 
clerical script for efficient writing of drafts. In practice, however, semicursive 
script usually reflects the structure and stroke order of standard script. It is 
often used in combination with standard or cursive script. 

Cursive script (C: caosliu; ]: sosho) is the simplest and most abbreviated 
of Chinese scripts; it drastically reduces the number of strokes in a character 
and connects many elements, often into a single continuous impulse of the 
brush. The origins of cursive script actually antedate the evolution of standard 
script by several centuries. Because the prescribed number and order of 
strokes is altered in cursive script, both writing and reading of the script 
require special study. The Japanese cursive kaiia phonetic script evolved from 
the adaptation of Chinese cursive script to a strictly phonetic usage that was 
separated from the individual meanings of the characters. Formally and 
aesthetically, Japanese cursive kafia (J: hiragatia or sogatia) diverged from Chi- 
nese cursive scripts and evolved an artistic mode of expression that had no 
parallel in China. 

In China and Japan, calligraphers use the same basic materials and em- 
ploy similar methods of study and practice to master the art. Most calli- 
graphic works are written on paper with black ink. Gold, silver, and red 
(vermilion) inks are used only for special purposes; gold and silver are almost 
exclusively employed in sacred scriptures such as Buddhist and Daoist sutras, 
and red is used for gifts on auspicious occasions, especially in China. A few 
examples ot calligraphy in other colors survive, principally in the most luxu- 
rious Japanese Buddhist sutras. 

Before paper was widely available in China, bamboo or wooden slips 
were used tor writing, and many inscriptions accompany paintings on woven 
silk. Satin became popular in China during the seventeenth century, and was 
occasionally used for writing by Japanese painters of the Nanga school, who 
consciously emulated the tastes of Chinese scholars. Paper made from a 
variety of materials remained the dominant support for calligraphy. Whether 



hitvoductioii to Asian Calligraphy 13 



plain or decorated, paper provided a smooth, beautiful, and lasting surface 
for the movements of the brush, absorbing the ink quickly and responding to 
the most subtle variations of pressure and ink tonality. Although Chinese 
calligraphers occasionally used decorated papers, the taste for writing poetry 
on elaborately decorated grounds reached its most exquisite expression in 
Japan, where calligraphy was often executed over an independent design. 
Calligraphic inscriptions were cast into metalwork, engraved into stone or 
woodblocks for printing, and in Japan, occasionally employed in the decora- 
tion of ceramics. 

The most important tool ot Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, the essence 
of its expressive qualities, is the flexible brush (C: bi; j: fude). Made of differ- 
ent materials and in sizes ranging from the long, slender brushes used for 
classic Japanese katia to very large brushes virtually scrubbed across the sur- 
face of the paper, the brush is capable of every nuance of expression. In the 
hand of an accomplished calligrapher, the brush can produce the strictly 
spaced and virtually invariant characters of Buddhist sutra texts or the fluid 
and graceful forms of cursive script. 

Calligraphy is, in a sense, an art of performance, requiring the mastery 
of specific techniques and physical discipline before creative expression is 
possible. The method of writing each stroke, the initial, internal, and terminal 
movements, and the order of writing strokes within a character is prescribed, 
and followed faithfully. 

Calligraphic techniques assume that the writer is using his right hand, so 
all horizontal strokes are written from left to right, and vertical strokes are 
always begun from the top. Characters are generally begun from the left-side 
or upper element, and are written successively beneath each other in vertical 
columns. Horizontal inscriptions such as the titles of handscrolls, are written 
from the right, where the scroll first opens, toward the left. Only recently 
have some printed texts diverged from these general principles to read from 
left to right in conformity with European languages. 

Regular practice and repetition of the forms of characters and texts are as 
essential to mastering the art of writing as are studies of techniques to per- 
forming music or dance. As the writer becomes more proficient, he seeks to 
advance his learning by copying texts by accomplished master calligraphers 
of the past, learning by imitating and assimilating their individual styles. 
In Japan, calligraphers first learned the art of writing from Chinese models, 
but in later times, after the development of their own artistic kaiia script, they 
could also study the classic writings of their own master calligraphers. 

Once technique is mastered, the calligrapher can give expression to his 
individual style, which is revealed in the composition or proportions of 
characters, and in the variation of tempo and accents in the work as a whole. 
Selection of the paper or silk and control of the tonal variation of the ink also 



affects the overall aesthetic quality of the work. 

The artistic quality of calligraphy is judged on the merits of the writing 
alone, without regard to content. A superior poem does not improve a poor 
calligraphic work any more than a superior musical composition improves a 
poor performance. A calligraphic work is judged in the context of the nature 
of the script type chosen. The standard forms of seal, clerical, and regular 
script are formal and stable, emphasizing the architectural beauty of the form. 
In contrast, the semicursive and cursive scripts emphasize movement and 
rhythmic vitality. One script is not inherently more artistic than another, and 
the same calligrapher might write outstanding calligraphy in one script but 
do unexceptional work in another. Regardless of the script, a masterful calli- 
graphic work reveals its inner vitality, just as an eagle, whether diving from 
the air or standing motionless on a cliff, reveals its inner life. 

Calligraphy is not an abstract art, but rather an art of given form. No 
matter how simplified the characters, they must be sufficiently distinct to be 
read as writing. Calligraphic works are appreciated for their brushwork 
and composition, their style and spirit. Within their own traditions, however, 
to the trained eye of a connoisseur, the sources or models for a calligrapher 's 
style can be distinguished from his personal achievements. 

In China and Japan, calligraphy is executed in many formats, ranging 
from large inscriptions intended to be viewed in a public setting to hanging 
scrolls, albums, and handscrolls for private appreciation. The vertically elon- 
gated format of hanging scrolls or the long, continuous surface of horizontal 
handscrolls provide a format that allows a uniquely long, uninterrupted 
performance of calligraphy, limited only by the length of the text. 

Within the limitations imposed by script forms, Chinese and Japanese 
calligraphers have achieved in their writing an endless variety of original 
variations. Through their work, we can perceive the creative achievement of 
each writer within one ot the greatest and most enduring artistic traditions. 



Ifitrodnction to Asian Calligraphy 15 



Chinese Calligraphy 



Chinese regard calligraphy as their supreme artistic achievement. It is some- 
what ironic that it should be the last aspect of Chinese culture to be studied 
seriously by large numbers of Western scholars. The delay in Western appre- 
ciation of written Chinese characters points to the difficulties inherent in the 
connoisseurship of calligraphy. 

It is possible to appreciate Chinese calligraphy for its purely formal 
qualities, to admire the shapes of individual characters — each a complex and 
balanced unit — to perceive in the total composition each character or group 
of characters as it relates to the whole, and to appreciate the brushwork that 
in the hands of a master infuses the complete work with visual energy and 
excitement. For a thorough appreciation of Chinese calligraphy, however, the 
viewer should be able to grasp the meaning of the characters in proper con- 
text; however abstract their forms, Chinese characters always retain their 
inherent meaning. 

There is also the complex question of cultural and stylistic nuance. 
Through the centuries, calligraphic traditions and schools evolved in China. 
A connoisseur is able to look at the work of a particular calligrapher, trace 
the sources of his style, and at the same time recognize his unique contribu- 
tions. The subtleties of stylistic and historical nuance enable calligraphers 
to miply much more than they state explicitly. On occasion calligraphers 
have selected well-known poems and essays, or even calligraphic styles, 
because the texts' historical or political associations convey subtle implications 
to an informed viewer. 

Quality in calligraphy is not judged simply on the basis of the calligra- 
phers ability to copy the styles of the great masters. Throughout history that 
ability has marked only the beginning of a student's training. Matters of 
brush control and of compositional balance have been important, to be sure. 
Yet, greater emphasis has been placed on a calligrapher's ability to interpret 
early styles and traditions and imbue them with personal characteristics that 
result in new and exciting forms. Fundamental rules concerning stroke order, 
arrangement of written columns, use of a writing brush, and the like defmed 
the basic structure within which the art form developed. The greatest Chinese 
masters have been immortalized because of their ability to work within the 
basic structure and yet transcend the conventions that guide formal consider- 
ations and to achieve a statement that is their own. 

The history of calligraphy in China spans a period of more than three 
thousand years. One of the most remarkable aspects of that long history 
is that all of the basic script-forms were fully evolved as early as the fourth 
century a.d. During the initial phase — from the Shang (ca. 1 523-1028 B.C.) 
to the Six Dynasties (221-581) periods — Chinese calligraphers gradually 
transformed the early pictograms into forms that could be written more 
simply and quickly. The successive changes in forms, as well as in technique. 



16 



reflect a high degree of creativity in exploiting the flexibihty of the traditional 
Chinese writing brush. 

In spite of the rules governing individual script-forms, Chinese calligra- 
phy has been marked by an extraordinary diversity that continues to the 
present day. The diversity results, in part, from the Chinese reverence tor 
past achievements. Consequently, when one script-form gave way to another 
in the passage of time, the older type was not abandoned or forgotten. Rather, 
the earlier script survived to become an integral part of a rich cultural legacy, 
where it remained to influence or inspire students and scholars. On the basis 
of their formality and ritual connotations, some archaic script-forms were 
selected to serve commemorative or dedicatory functions. In the hands ot 
later masters, archaic script-forms frequently emerge in a slightly transformed 
guise to enjoy a revival and, ultimately, to provide yet another refinement to 
China's cultural heritage. 

The earliest Chinese archaic characters, jia<^nweti, appear on oracle bones 
that were used for divination during the late Shang dynasty. Although differ- 
ent styles are clearly recognizable, the outstanding feature of Chinese oracle- 
bone inscriptions is the appearance of pointed forms that result from the 
meticulous way in which the characters were tirst written and then carved 
into the unyielding bone or shell. The size of the individual characters varies, 
depending upon their complexity. 

In bronze inscriptions (see cat. no. i), the large seal script, dazhuan, 
which for a time existed simultaneously with the oracle-bone script, went 
through a gradual codification during the Shang and Zhou (ca. 1027-221 
B.C.) dynasties with increasing conformity in the size of the characters and 
the arrangement of the columns. Regional styles in bronze inscriptions occur 
throughout the Shang and Zhou periods. Uniformity was fully achieved 
during the Qin dynasty (221-207 B.C.) in the small seal script, xiaozhumi (see 
cat. nos. 10 and 19), which was, according to tradition, the achievement of Li 
Si (died 208 B.C.). 

Clerical script, lishu, which developed from small seal script, reached its 
height during the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220). Written in ink on bamboo 
and wooden slips (see cat. no. 2) and engraved on stone stelae (see cat. no. 
18), many examples ot clerical script have been unearthed during the past few 
years, thereby enriching our knowledge of the stylistic sequences. The main 
differences between clerical script and the earlier monumental script-forms 
are related to brushwork and structure. The even pressure and unwavering 
strokes that are typical of both the large and small seal scripts were replaced 
by modulated strokes, while curving forms supplanted the earlier, prevailing 
emphasis on straight and angular lines. These innovations mark the beginning 
of a full exploitation of the brush's potential for expressive movement and 
articulated form. They also represent a major turning point in the evolution 



Chinese Calligrapliy 17 



of Chinese calligraphy, since clerical script led directly to the modern forms. 

In their persistent search for greater fluency, Chinese calligraphers soon 
replaced the exacting clerical script with a new, more pliant script-form 
known as standard or regular script, kaishtd. Although the earliest form of 
standard script appeared as early as the Han dynasty (206 b.c.-a.d. 220), it 
was not until the Sui (581-618) and early Tang (618-907) periods that stan- 
dard script was fully evolved, with portions of individual characters being 
linked and the horizontal and vertical strokes subtly counterpoised (see cat. 
nos. 3, 5, 6, 15, and 16). Even in the hands of a master calligrapher, the linear 
precision and structural balance of this script continues to be the most de- 
manding of all Chinese script-forms. For this reason, students usually begin 
by practicing the work of the great Tang masters. 

The new freedom and informality inherent in semicursive script, xingshu, 
owe their beginnings to the innovations in clerical script. Yet, those features 
should also be seen as a simplification of the contemporaneous standard 
script. The structural flexibility of both semicursive and standard scripts 
presented calligraphers with a potential for personal expression that was 
quickly realized (see cat. nos. 4, 9, 11, 12, and 14). 

Many of the formal and technical changes seen in semicursive and stan- 
dard scripts are borrowed from the earliest forms of cursive script, caoshu. 
Although there are differing traditional theories about the origins of cursive 
script, recent archaeological evidence supports a date as early as the Qin and 
Western Han (206 b.c.-a.d. 24) periods. As calligraphers evolved more prac- 
tical modes of writing, they introduced many simplified forms and new 
symbols that enabled them to express concepts more quickly, even eliminat- 
ing some strokes altogether (see cat. nos. 7, 8, 13, and 17). 

Once established, the new script-forms remained an unending source of 
inspiration for later calligraphers. The creativity of the Chinese masters is 
shown in their repeated ability to imbue the forms with an individuality and 
freshness that are as original today as they were more than hfteen hundred 
years ago. The unswerving emphasis in China upon copying traditional 
models made it inevitable that the achievements of each generation would be 
influenced by the contributions of the great masters of the past. Still-greater 
emphasis was always placed upon the calligrapher's ability to infuse the early 
styles and traditions with new, deeply personal interpretations. Thus, Chinese 
calligraphers through the centuries have succeeded in developing enduring 
personal styles which, in time, contribute additional details of form to a tra- 
dition that has endured for almost seven thousand years. 

The selection of Chinese calligraphic works included in this exhibition is 
based on the theme of one of the panel discussions of the twenty-sixth Inter- 
national Congress for the History of Art — "The Written Word in Art and 
as Art" — which will examine the functional and artistic role of written words 
as art and as they are combined with other art forms. 

18 



All of the Chinese writings selected are, without question, works of art 
and can be appreciated as such. At the same time, when these examples of 
Chinese calligraphy are examined within the broad context of China's cultural 
history, each one of the nineteen works exemplifies a particular aspect of 
Chinese calligraphy. The works can be grouped into three categories: 

1. Functional writings, such as ceremonial bronze inscriptions (cat. no. i); 
documents on wooden tablets (cat. no. 2); Buddhist (cat. no. 3) and Daoist 
(cat. no. 6) sutras; and personal letters (cat. no. 12). The writers can be 
described as preselected specialists in that their emphasis was on matters 
other than a purely aesthetic achievement. Although there is a vast range of 
quality in the calligraphy found on records and messages, the items that were 
regarded as collectable by Chinese connoisseurs are always the work of tal- 
ented and trained master calligraphers. There is no question, therefore, that 
the overriding concerns in judging the calligraphy have been talent, creativity, 
and aesthetic subtlety. 

2. Inscriptions on or for paintings and calligraphy, such as frontispieces (cat. 
nos. 10 and 19); texts for illustrations (cat. nos. 4 and 9); painters' self- 
inscriptions (cat. no. 7); and colophons by connoisseurs or collectors (cat. 
nos. 5, 8, 9, and 16). In many instances, the informative comments or ap- 
praisals in the writings can be extremely important in understanding the 
specific work of art. In this limited sense, the writings might be regarded as 
functional. The calligraphy was, nevertheless, written either directly on the 
same surface as the work of art itself, or as part of the sequence of statements 
about the object by outstanding calligraphers. The circumstances, so un- 
equivocally competitive, motivated Chinese calligraphers toward their finest 
performances. Given the calligraphers' keen awareness of how discerning the 
Chinese critics could be, it is understandable that in most cases only fully 
trained calligraphers felt confident enough to write inscriptions or colophons 
directly on a painting or work of calligraphy. 

3. Writings as calligraphic art, such as copies of model calligraphy (cat. no. 
11) or a stele inscription (cat. no. 18); and transcriptions of famous texts of 
the past (cat. no. 13) or the calligrapher's own writing (cat. nos. 14-17). Since 
the art of calligraphy is also the art of written characters, the form of the 
script is inseparable from the meaning of the chosen characters. The specific 
text may or may not have any effect on the calligrapher's mood while he or 
she is writing. But when a viewer is appreciating or a critic is appraising a 
work, their judgments should be made solely on the quality of the calligraphy 
itself. To repeat, an exceptional poem does not increase the quality of the 
calligraphy. 

Although the selection for this exhibition does not cover every type of 
calligraphic work in Chinese art, all the works can be classified into the three 
categories outlined above. 



Chinese Calligraphy 19 



I Inscription on Bronze Fangyi 



large seal script 

anonymous historiographer 

China, early Western Zhou dynasty; iith 

cast bronze 

height 17.5 cm (678 in); width 16 cm 
30.54 



Ceremonial bronze inscriptions varied 
considerably in length. During the Shang 
dynasty (ca. 1523-1028 B.C.) most bronze 
inscriptions were short, terse records indi- 
cating the name of the clan, the person who 
commissioned the vessel, or the ancestor 
for whom it was made. By contrast, some 
Western Zhou (eleventh through eighth 
centuries B.C.) bronze inscriptions are 
imposing narrative compositions compris- 
ing several hundred characters. These are 
mainly records of ceremonial events, royal 
rewards, and investitures, and accounts of 
military campaigns or treaties. 

Chinese bronze inscriptions, which 
continued to be cast and later engraved, 
span a period of more than one thousand 
years. The script is rich in variety, reflecting 
a long evolution constantly modified and 
enlivened by regional and stylistic changes. 
Although Chinese bronze inscriptions 
were functional, the individual characters 
and overall compositions were designed by 
master historiographers; each inscription 
provides a useful model for modern callig- 
raphers. 

This bronze inscription from a Freer 
vessel contains thirteen vertical columns 
plus the name (unrecognized) ot the histo- 
riographer. Most ot the strokes making 
up the characters have pointed beginnings 
and endings. There are occasionally squar- 
ish, nail-like starting points on the left for 
some horizontal strokes; each resembling a 
chisel, they are similar in shape to the 
cuneiform script of ancient Iran. 

The sharp, straight strokes and angular 
corners ot the characters are idiosyncrasies 
inherited from the incised oracle-bone 
script. But, since bronze inscriptions were 
cast, the technique imposed no ditFiculty in 
preserving the round, smooth turns and 
corners of the original handwritten charac- 
ters. The curvilinear quality ot bronze 
inscriptions became the major characteristic 
of the later seal script. 

This relatively early bronze inscription on 
the Freer vessel displays above-average 
variation in the thickness and thinness of 
the strokes. Some strokes have fat tails, 
whereas other strokes or characters form a 
block; both the tail and the block forms 
were diminished in the later development of 
the seal script as the individual characters 
became more uniform. Moreover, the size 



to lOth century B.C. 
> in) 

of each character in the Freer inscription 
varies. 

The inscription was cast inside, under the 
cover of the fangyi. A virtually identical 
version of the text is cast on the interior 
walls of the vessel. Though not particularly 
common, the fangyi (or square yi) is a 
well-known vessel type. The Freer fangyi is 
famous for its long inscription and elegant, 
neat calligraphy, and for the precise casting 
of the decoration on the exterior of the 
vessel. 

Historical studies of this inscription have 
been published by many eminent scholars.' 
Most of the Chinese studies have been 
cited and analyzed by Chen Mengjia in his 
wide-ranging discussion of early Western 
Zhou bronzes. - 

Through the studies by Chinese, Japa- 
nese, and Western historians and epigra- 
phers, only about a halt-dozen characters 
remain — among the total ot 188 charac- 
ters'* — that have not been deciphered or for 
which no modern counterpart seems to 
exist. The general sense of the inscription 
and the historical events described are 
evident in the following excerpt: 

On f/;f jiashen day in the Sth month, the King 
commanded Ming Bao, son of the Duke of 
Zhou, to take charge of the three Minis- 
tries. . . . Duke Ming bestowed sacrificial wine, 
metal and a small ox. . . . Then he gave orders 
saying: "Now I command you . . . and Nie 
. . . to he colleagues, and also to serve with 
loyalty." The Annalist [Nic] presumes to extol 
the beneficence of his Chief Duke Ming by using 
[material presented by the Duke] to make 
. . . a precious sacral vessel which he ventures to 
beg Duke Ming to offer . . . for the glory of 
Father Ding. Recorded by X."* 

Although there has been a lively contro- 
versy in regard to the precise dating of the 
Freer vessel, it is generally agreed that the 
bronze was cast within the reign of either 
Cheng Wang or Zhao Wang of the early 
Western Zhou dynasty. The fangyi was said 
to be unearthed at Loyang in Henan Prov- 
ince in 1929.^ Loyang was the site of the 
new Zhou capital established soon after the 
conquest. According to tradition, many of 
the artisans who worked in bronze were 
moved to the new Zhou capital trom the 
Shang metropolitan foundries at Anyang. 




fangyi, 30.54 



The unusually high quality of the Freer 
bronze and its inscription stylistically 
reflects the outstanding achievements of the 
early Western Zhou period. 

1. What is probably the first discussion of the inscrip- 
tion in the Freer fangyi was pubHshed by Luo Zhenyu 
in 1929, the year the vessel is believed to have been 
found. See "Nieyi kaoshi," Shinagakii 5, no. 3 (October 
1929): 155-60. Archibald G. Wenley's discussion of 
the inscription in 1946 remains the standard English 
presentation of the text. See A DfSiriplii'C and Uhtstrative 
Catalogue of Chinese Bronzes Acquired during the Adminis- 
tration of John Ellerton Lodge, compiled by the staff of 
the Freer Gallery of Art [J. E. Lodge, A. G. Wenley, 

J. A. Pope). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institu- 
tion, 1946), pp. 42-47. 

2. Chen Mengjia, "Xi Zhou tongqi duandai," Kaogu 
xuehao 10 {1955): 86-91. 

3. The inscription cast on the interior walls consists of 
188 characters. The inscription cast on the cover con- 
sists of 187 characters. 

4. This portion ot the text is based on the 1946 transla- 
tion by Archibald G. Wenley. See note i above. 

5. Among the bronzes said to have been unearthed to- 
gether near Loyang in 1929 is a fangcun bearing the same 
inscription. The fangcun is now in the collection of the 
National Palace Museum, Taiwan. See Gugong tongqi 
luhi I (195S): 142, and 2 (1958): 209. 

References: Lothar Ledderose, Die Siegelschrifl (Chuan- 
shuj in der Chi'ing-Zeit (Weisbaden: F. Steiner, 1970); 
John Alexander Pope et al.. The Freer Chinese Bronzes, 
vol. I (Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, Smith- 
sonian Institution, 1967), pp. 212-20. 



20 



Chinese Calligraphy 



2 Documents on Wooden Tablets 



clerical script 
anonymous 

China, Han dynasty; A dated 42 B.C., B-D ca. mid-ist century B.C. 

four tablets; ink on wood 

lengths from 18.7 to 23.5 cm {jVa to gV-t in) 

Gift of John M. Crawford, Jr. 

8j.4a,b,c,d 



Before paper had been invented (second 
century a.d.) and became widely available 
in China, books, documents, and corre- 
spondence were written on bamboo and 
wooden tablets. Most of the writings done 
for the old Chinese texts still preserved 
today are of professional quality. The 
quality of the script seen in the documents 
written on the tablets, however, is uneven. 
One reason is that the classics and miscella- 
neous traditional texts were written by 
trained calligraphers, whereas the vast 
quantity of documents were written by 
people who, though literate, had uneven 
levels of artistic talent and calligraphic and 
educational training. But the best writings 
on bamboo and wooden tablets still serve as 
models for today's students. Especially 
exciting for calligraphers is the tablet's large 
variety of brushwork. Such variety ap- 
peared in calligraphy for the first time 
during this early phase in the history of 
Chinese calligraphy, and was to remain a 
compelling aspect during all later periods. 
The bamboo and wooden slips have pro- 
vided exciting material for nineteenth- and 
twentieth-century Chinese scholar- 
calligraphers, whose models for earlier 
generations were rubbings of carved stone 
inscriptions. 

The illustration of the Freer tablets 
shows, from left to right, tablets D, C, B, 
and A. The widest of the four tablets (A) 
contains five columns of calligraphy in the 
upper portion and a date corresponding 
to 42 B.C. The calligraphy is written in 
semicursive script with special accents on 
plump horizontal and right diagonal 
strokes, creating a more interesting overall 
composition than is found on the other 
three tablets. The script on tablet B is the 
most regular and skillful, being close to the 
formal writing found carved on stone 
stelae of the period. The calligraphic charac- 
ters on tablet C are especially loosely struc- 
tured. Tablet D, which preserves the clearest 
writing, is not complete; the remaining 
strokes along both of its edges suggest that 
it originally must have been a much wider 
tablet. Only tablet D bears writing on 
the reverse side. 

The different widths of the tablets and the 
variations in the scripts as well as in the 
hands, suggest that the four tablets do not 
constitute a single group and may vary in 




Fig. I. A group ot Han-dynasty wooden tablets 
bound with hemp threads in the traditional 
manner. Academia Sinica, Taipei. 



date. The three undated tablets (B,C,D), 
however, may also be stylistically dated 
around the mid-first century B.C. 

Bamboo tablets dating from the Warring 
States (480-222 B.C.) and the Qin (221- 
207 B.C.) periods have been discovered 
mainly in southern China along the Yangzi 
River. Wooden tablets dating from the 
Han dynasty (206 B.C. -a.d. 220) or later 
(see fig. i) have been unearthed almost 
exclusively from the northwestern regions 
of China. The geographic distribution of 
the tablets is based on the easy availability 
of bamboo or wood from the different 
regions. 

The largest single collection and major 
group of wooden tablets was unearthed in 
1930 in the Juyen region, located northwest 
of Dunhuang, Gansu Province, in a city 
established around 104 B.C. A large number 
of those tablets are dated between 102 B.C. 
and A.D. 30. The texts consist primarily 
of official dispatches to garrisons in the 
frontier outposts, documents and registers, 
letters, and the like.' 

According to the inscription by the 
connoisseur-collector Zhang Hcng {zi 
Congyu, 191 4-1963), written inside the box 



for this set of tablets, the Freer tablets are 
from Juyen. Although there is no way to 
prove Zhang Heng's statement, comparison 
of the Freer tablets with the large quantity 
from Juyen reveals that their characteristics 
are remarkably similar, both physically 
and calligraphically. The quality of the 
calligraphy on the four Freer tablets is 
considerably above average, with the char- 
acters on tablet B being exceptional. 

I. Lao Gin, Jiiyan Haiijien kaoshi, 6 vols. (Chungking, 
1943-44)- 

References: Ezekiel Schloss, Art of the Han (New York: 
China Institute in America, 1979), p. 24; Tseng 1971, 
entry 6. 



22 




Chinese Calligraphy 23 



3 The Buddhist Sutra of the Great Demise (The Mahaparinirvana Sutra) 

standard script 
anonymous 

China, Sui dynasty (581-618) 
handscroll; ink on paper 

height 21. 1 cm (8yi6 in); length 380.6 cm {li^gVn in) 
82.2 



I 



,1 



X-T "S" -7" « f§ 

Si jff yy ^ 
.3 -f^ ■^M ir\ 

nA^ .-^y <^ -«> jiS 

h"- ^ i3< f ^ 
/*» ^ ^ ^ X. 

<m -ih ^' Mr *i> 

as ^ ^ ^ * - 

/-^ -i. M ftL f * 

/[i -i- f 

ft ^ ^ 



ft 

> V 
-»- 



it 



s 



JL ff» 

11 

X. Jt i. 

Kj t j 

-fa, It 

!:i ■hi 

^ 

^ 5J< ^ 

t& # 

■>r '*jf 
i»r <*» Jr 



4V 

-t fl.'v Ife 
<'l --fl 

ta — 

I- J- - k 

«\ % 

^ 1'^ 



-Jj. -tft , 
<j -(It 

«L 

-f^ -*» 

.Sl Ifr- 

-5: 

-tt ilV. 

* It >^ 

'■'^ ^ -A 



Fig. 2. Partially unrolled sutra scroll trom the Tang dynasty. Private collection 



Both Buddhist and Daoist sutras were held 
by believers when they chanted or recited 
during religious ceremonies or individual 
contemplations. While the sutras are re- 
garded as functional writings, those ex- 
amples that were particularly well written 
were always preferred by educated Chinese 
monks and laypeople. 

When Buddhist sutras were translated 
from the original Sanskrit into Chinese, the 
sacred texts were usually transcribed by 
anonymous professional calligraphers. 
Nonetheless, most of the Chinese Buddhist 
sutras dating from the Tang dynasty (618- 
907) or earlier are extremely well written. 
Their calligraphy is highly professional and 
polished. 

Figure 2 shows a partially unrolled section 
of a typically long horizontal sutra scroll. 
Here and in the Freer scroll of The Biiddist 
Sutra of the Great Demise, the individual 
characters are precisely written within 
vertical grid lines. Using a sharp and resil- 
ient brush, the calhgrapher of the Freer 
scroll applied full energy and concentration 
in writing each stroke and composing 
each character. Although the sutra is in 
standard script, the individual characters are 
not written mechanically. There are varia- 
tions in the pressure of the brush, in the 
speed with which the calligrapher wrote, 
and in the size and form of the characters. 
The square corners of the characters are 
structurally sturdy, and the round turns are 
smooth and springy. The left diagonals 
sweep like swords; those moving toward 
the right are as sturdy as heavy blades; the 
verticals are as straight' and strong as pillars. 
Yet, all of the strokes are vividly written; 
each one has its own rhythm. Every charac- 
ter is a distinct composition, possessing its 
own manner and gravity. In addition, the 
special relationships between the characters 
enrich the total aesthetic effect. These subtle 
nuances constitute the major difference 
between a well-written sutra and a standard 
printed version. 

Since most sutra scrolls were written by 
anonymous professional calligraphers, those 
that bear signed names are relatively absent 
from calligraphic history. But advanced 
sutra transcribers were just as competent as 
recognized calligraphers, and some were 
technically more skillful. Their competence 
was recognized by famous Chinese calligra- 
phers of the later periods who realized how 
difficult it was to achieve such technical 



perfection, especially when they themselves 
failed to imitate successfully the sutra styles. 

On the other hand, most of the profes- 
sional Chinese calligraphers who transcribed 
sutras may have been more conservative 
and less artistic than the recognized calligra- 
phers. The transcribers, who could have 
been either learned monks or lay intellec- 
tuals, were commissioned by Buddhist 
parishioners, whose aim was to donate the 
sutras to temples. 

The Buddhist Sutra of the Great Demise is 
commonly called The Mahaparinirvana 
Sutra. It preserves the words said to have 
been delivered by the Buddha Sakyamuni 
just before his death. The sutra was trans- 
lated into Chinese by Chinese monks 
during the fourth century. As is the case 
with most handwritten sutras, this scroll 
was neither signed nor dated. Consequently, 
the only means of dating the work is 
through stylistic comparison to dated 
scrolls of the same category. In general, the 
Freer sutra corresponds to those examples 
from the period between the late Sui and 
early Tang dynasties, roughly falling into 
the first half of the seventh century. 

At the beginning of the Freer scroll a 
collector's seal indicates that a Mr. Xu 
Chunfu obtained the sutra while he was 
traveling to Gansu Province. At the turn of 
the twentieth century, a great number of 
sutra scrolls were discovered by a Chinese 
monk at Dunhuang in a cave that had been 
sealed since the mid-clcventh century. 
The English scholar Sir Aurel Stein obtained 
a large portion of the material from the 



cave and brought it to the attention of 
specialists throughout the world. Many of 
the Dunhuang scrolls are now preserved in 
the British Museum in London, the Biblio- 
thequc Nationale in Paris, and the National 
Library in Peking. The Freer sutra is one of 
the scrolls that must have come from the 
cave at Dunhuang and then circulated in 
private hands. Although it has been almost 
thirteen centuries since the scroll was 
written, the paper is still in impressive 
condition, because it had been treated with 
a yellowish liquid prepared from the seeds 
and bark of the Amur cork tree for protec- 
tion against damage by insects. The scroll is 
not in its original unmounted format. At 
some time in its recent history, the sutra 
was mounted as a traditional Chinese scroll, 
with a silk border and backing paper. 

The Freer scroll is one of the best-written 
sutras of its kind. It enables us to visualize 
the calligraphic style of a period from 
which there are otherwise so few extant 
original handwritten works by great mas- 
ters. 

References: Roderick Whittield, The Art of Central 
Asia: The Stein Collection in the British Museum, 3 vols. 
(Tokyo, 1982-84); 14, 1}, Baiwieres et peintures de Touen- 
houang conservees aus Musee Guimet, 2 vols. (Paris, 
1974, 1976); Mission Paul Pelliot 1 j, Tissus de Touen- 
houaug conserves au Musee Guimet et a la Bihliotheque 
Nationale (Paris, 1970); Lionel Giles, Descriptive 
Catalogue of the Chinese Manuscripts from Tunhuang in the 
British Museum (London, 1957); Xie Zhiliu, Dunhuang 
yishu xulu (Shanghai, 1955); Matsumoto Eiichi, 
Tonkoga no kenkyii, 2 vols. (Tokyo, 1937); Paul Pelliot, 
Les Grotles de Touen-houang (Paris, 1921-24). 



^ ^ ^ n — , 

1-4 ^j-^Ci^f I 

detail 

Chinese CalUgrciphy 25 



4 ''Returning to Seclusion," A Prose-Poem by Tao Qian 



semicursivc script 

calligraphy by Li Peng (ca. io6o-ca. mo) 
China, Song dynasty; inscription dated mo 
handscroll; ink on silk 

height 37 cm (i4yi6 in); length 518.5 cm (204^16 in) 
19119 



This Freer handscroll is an outstanding 
example of a calligraphic transcription of an 
early text made to accompany an illustra- 
tion. One of the earliest and most famous 
examples of this format combining caUigra- 
phy and painting is the "Admonitions of 
the Court Instructress" attributed to Gu 
Kaizhi (341-402), now in the British Mu- 
seum. On some scrolls of this type, the 
painting and calligraphy are by the same 
artist; on other examples, the work of two 
artists is combined. In the case of "Return- 
ing to Seclusion," an early twelth-century 
artist working in the style of Li Gonglin 
(1049-1106) painted the individual sections 
to illustrate the well-known prose-poem 
by the poet Tao Qian (365-427). 

The anonymous artist painted the main 
scene from each passage, leaving a space 
between each scene for the transcription of 
the text. Li Peng later transcribed the 
appropriate passages from the prose-poem. 
The alternation between calligraphy and 
illustration not only creates an interesting 
momentum and frame, but also allows for 
the figure of the poet to appear repeatedly 
in different settings. At the end (far left) of 
the Freer scroll, Li Peng also added a 
postinscription in which he recorded his 
appreciation of the painting, and the cir- 
cumstances, the date, and the name ot the 
person for whom he had written the in- 
scription. 

Passages of Li's calligraphy in different 
lengths enframe the painted sections. The 
calligraphy of the main text is written in 
semistandard script, whereas the ten-line 
postinscription is in semicursive script. The 
brushwork is relatively plump and the 
structure of the characters is elongated and 
graceful. Li Peng modulated the pressure on 
his brush within a single stroke. He grace- 



fully raised the brush tip and then pressed it 
down from time to time so that the gentle 
strokes vary from thin to thick, and vice 
versa. The plump strokes remind us of the 
brushwork of Su Shi (1036-1101), but 
the structure of the characters recalls the 
calligraphy of Mi Fu (1053-1 107).' 

The text is one of the most famous prose- 
poems composed by the great poet Tao 
Qian of the Eastern Jin dynasty (317-420). 
In the year 406, after serving as magistrate 
of Pengze in Jiangxi Province for eighty 
days, Tao Qian retired from public office 
because he did not want to submit to the 
orders of his superior officer, whom he did 
not respect. He then returned home. This 
prose-poem is a moving record of Tao 
Qian s thoughts and emotions on his return, 
his sense of release from the petty frustra- 
tions of official life, and the joys of the 
pastoral life ot the cultivated scholar-recluse. 
Beloved by every literate Chinese, the 
poem has been used by innumerable paint- 
ers and calligraphers throughout the suc- 
ceeding centuries. - 

Excerpts from Tao Qian's prose-poem 
provide a glimpse of his sensibility: 

Homewards I bend my steps, 

My fields, my (gardens are choked with weeds: 

should I not go? . . . 
I will devote my energies to the future. . . . 
Lightly, lightly, speeds my boat along, 
My garments fluttering to the gentle breeze. . . . 
From afar I descry my old home, and joyfully 

press onwards in my haste. 
The servants rush forth to meet me, 
My children cluster at the gate. 
The place is a wilderness; but there is the old 

pine tree, and my chrysanthemums. . . . 
Wine is brought in full bottles, 
I pour out in brimmitig cups. . . . 



I take my pleasure in my garden. 
There is a gate, but it is rarely opened. . . . 
Cheering my idle hours with lute and book. . . . 
Wlien springtime is nigh, there will be work in 

the furrowed fields. . . . 
Ah, how short a time it is that we are here! 
Why then not set our hearts at rest, ceasing to 

trouble whether we remain or go? . . . 
I will mount the hill and sing my song, 
I will weave my verse beside the limpid brook. 
Thus will I work out my allotted span, content 

with the appointments oj Fate, 
My spirit free from care.^ 

The calligrapher Li Peng, also known as 
Li Shanglao, was a native of Jiangxi Prov- 
ince. He was the grandson of Li Chang 
(1027-1090), who was the uncle of the 
leading Song-dynasty calligrapher-poet 
Huang Tingjian (1050-mo). It was natural, 
therefore, that in poetry Li Peng was a 
member of the Jiangxi school, which was 
led by Huang Tingjian. According to 
Li's own statement, his calligraphic models 
were Wang Xizhi (ca. 303-ca. 361), Yen 
Zhenqing (709-785), Liu Gongquan (778- 
865), and Yang Ningshi (873-954). Li Peng 
gained fame as a calligrapher, and his works 
were treasured by contemporary collectors. 
His extant works are rare, and the inscrip- 
tions, dated 1 1 10, on the Freer scroll pro- 
vide an important dated calligraphic work 
of the late Northern Song period (960- 
1127). 

1. See Ledderose 1979. 

2. Lawton 1973, pp. 38-41. 

3. Herbert A. Giles, Gems of Chinese Literature (London: 
Kelley and Walsh, 1923), pp. 103-4. Reprint. New 
York: Paragon Book Reprint Corp., 1965. 

Reference: Fu and Nakata 1981-83, vol. I, pis. 80-83, 
p. 143. 




26 




Chinese Calligraphy 27 



5 Colophon to Wang Xienzhi's "Epitaph for My Wet-Nurse 



standard script 

by Guo Tienxi (ca. 1235-ca. 1302) 
China, Yuan dynasty; dated 1292 
handscroll; ink on paper 

height 30 cm (ii'yih in); length 39.3 cm (i5'/2 in) 
80.7 



Wang Xienzhi (344-386) and his father, 
Wang Xizhi (ca. 303-ca. 361), known as the 
"two Wangs," are traditionally regarded as 
the founders of the orthodox school of 
Chinese calligraphy. The two men have 
exerted greater influence on the history of 
Chinese calligraphy than have any other 
masters. Their exalted status is all the more 
remarkable considering that no original 
examples of their works are extant. All that 
is known of their calligraphy is based on 
rubbings made from stone stelae and from 
copies made by later masters. Consequently, 
there are varying opinions regarding the 
authenticity of all the works attributed to 
Wang Xienzhi and his father.' 

The Baomuzhi, or epitaph written by 
Wang Xienzhi for the woman who had been 
his wet-nurse, was carved on the funerary 
tablet placed in the woman's tomb. Accord- 
ing to the text, the wet-nurse, Miss Li Yiru, 
was unusual in that she excelled in compos- 
ing essays and wrote cursive script. Wang 
Xienzhi wrote the epitaph for her in a.d. 
379, when he was about thirty-five years 
old. 

When the funerary tablet was accidentally 
unearthed in Zhejiang Province in 1203, it 
became the subject of great discussion in 
scholarly circles. Opinions varied as to 
whether it was a genuine work or whether 
it was from the hand of a later calligrapher. 

The rubbing of the "Epitaph," mounted 
at the beginning (far right) of the Freer 
handscroll, is the only surviving version of 
the Baomuzhi. The colophons (see discus- 
sion, cat. no. 8) by some ot China's most 
famous collectors add to its importance. 
The colophon by Guo Tienxi, mounted on 
the left of the handscroll, is one of the 
examples that was highly regarded by later 
connoisseurs and collectors even though it 
is not an impressive piece of calligraphy. 

The colophon's semistandard script, squat 
in its structure, was written without haste. 
In beginning the horizontal brush strokes, 
Guo Tienxi has revealed the sharp tip of his 
brush; he has also completely accented the 
endings of his strokes. Only an occasional 
emphatic hook detracts from the brush- 
work. The columns of calligraphy arc 
spacious and neat. 

Guo Tienxi's fame is based upon his 
accomplishments as a collector and connois- 
seur of ancient calligraphic works. His 
colophon on the Freer handscroll is impor- 



tant for its content. Guo states that in 
1289 he acquired the rubbing of "Epitaph 
for My Wet-Nurse" from the great calhgra- 
pher Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322; see cat. 
no. 6), whose transcription of the Baomuzhi 
and colophon (dated 1309) appear on the 
handscroll. When Guo Tienxi visited Hang- 
zhou, he compared the rubbing to other 
versions. Although the rubbing he obtained 
from Zhao Mengfu was different from the 
other versions, it was difficult for Guo to 
dispute its authenticity, since no original 
examples of Wang Xienzhi's calligraphy 
were extant. Guo Tienxi loved the charac- 
ters in this work and copied them for three 
years, but not a single character resembled 
that of his model. It is said that he sighed in 
resignation, realizing that it was truly 
difficult to reach the realm of the ancient 
masters. Guo Tienxi dated his colophon in 
1292, after adding a poem in seven-character 
meter: 

The treasured Laming preface [originally 
written by Wang Xizhi] was engraved on a 
jade stone, 

Accordingly it was based on the original and 

copied by Ouyang Xun. 
But the problem of original and forgery remained 

until now. 

How can it be compared with this work which 
was personally written and engraved by Wang 
[Xienzhi]! 

The "Epitaph for My Wet-Nurse" was directly 
transmitted from more than eight hundred 
years ago. 

The brushwork 0/ [Wang] Xienzhi is very 

similar to that 0/ [his father, Wang] Xizhi. 
The chipped and broken stele left us some 

hundred characters, 
It should be respectfully taken as the teacher by 

Oil [-yang Xun] and Yen [Zhcnqing] for a 

thousand generations. 

In Guo Tienxi's colophon, he records the 
date and origin of the rubbing. He also 
describes his comparative study of the other 
versions and of Wang Xizhi's Lanting 
preface (see cat. no. 11), and he presents his 
own evaluation of the work. The text is 
composed in both prose and poem form. In 
its scope and content Guo Tienxi's inscrip- 
tion represents a typical colophon by a 
scholar-collcctor-connoisseur. 

Guo Tienxi was a native of Datong in 
Shanxi Province, but he held an official post 




Song-dynasty rubbing ot "Epitaph tor My Wet- 
Nurse"; ink on paper 



at Zhenjiang in Jiangsu Province. He had 
close contacts, therefore, with the circle of 
collector-connoisseurs in thejiangnan 
region. Aside from Zhao Mengfu, who 
lived nearby and with whom Guo Tienxi 
could exchange collections, he knew the 
renowned connoisseur Zhou Mi (1232- 
1298), who recorded some of Guo's collec- 
tions in his extant texts.- Guo's colophons 
mainly appear on important calligraphic 
works of the Tang (618-907) and Song 
(960-1279) periods. 

1. The most recent discussion of Wang Xizhi's calhgra- 
phy was prompted by the pubHcation of an article by 
Guo Moruo, "Yu Wang Zie mu zhide chutu lundao 
Lanting ,xu dejenwei," Wcnwu, no. 6 (1965): 1-24. So 
many differing points ot view were forthcoming 

that most of the pertment writings were assembled in a 
special publication, Laiilim; lunhien, Peking, 1973. 

2. Zhou Mi, YuHYati g^uoyaii hi, :hiiaii ihatit;, pp. 46-49, 
Yishu zongbien edition. 

References: Fu and Nakata 1981-83, vol. i, pi. 10, pp. 
131-33; Fu 1977; Shodd '^cijitsu, WiingXiji, IVaii)^ Xienzhi 
(Tokyo, 1976); O Gi5/;i (Tokyo, 1974); Nakata Yujiro, 
O Gishi 0 chiisin to suru hojd no kenkyu (Tokyo, 1970); 
Gugongfashu, vol. 5 (Taipei, 1962); Dungjiii (i960), 
vol. 4 of Shodo zenshil. 



28 

























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Chinese Calligraphy 29 



6 The Daoist Sutra of Constant Purity and Tranquility 



small standard script 
by Zhao Mcngfu (1254-13 22) 
China, Yuan dynasty; ca. 1292 
handscroll; ink on silk 

height 29 cm {11V2 in); length 58 cm (22ys in) 
80.8a 



At its inception, the native Chinese religion 
of Daoism was the mam belief among 
intellectuals. Many of the Daoist sutras 
were transcribed by scholar-believers who 
were also outstanding calligraphers. The 
tradition of transcribing the sutras continued 
in this manner through the Qing dynasty 
(1644-1911). 

When a devout scholar-calligrapher 
transcribed a sutra, he used the text itself as 
a source of contemplation. The calligraphers 
were not transcribing the texts purely for 
money, nor were they writing them solely 
for their religious content, to be appreciated 
by ordinary believers. Rather, they intended 
the precisely written sutras to be gifts for 
their peers. Both the calligraphers and the 
recipients considered the transcribing of 
Daoist sutras to be a rigorous artistic exer- 
cise and an expression of the calligraphers 
appreciation of calligraphy as art. 

Written in small standard script, the 
characters in this Daoist sutra have a calm 
and gentle appearance. The brush strokes 
are soft yet elastic, steady yet lively. The 
thin tips of the strokes reveal all ot Zhao 
Mengfu's brush movements. The structure 
of the characters is broad, and each character 
generally has a base wider than its top. 
Zhao maintained generous spacing between 
the characters regardless of their placement 
within an individual column. Consequently, 
the total impression from this short hand- 
scroll is that it is airy, calm, and restful. 
Although the small standard script may not 
appear impressive at first glance, writing 
such characters is technically demanding, 
and examples of this type of calligraphy are 
highly prized by discriminating Chinese 
connoisseurs. 

The sharp but soft brush tip and the thin 
and neat strokes evoke a clean and pure 
atmosphere in the mind of the viewer. The 
qualities of the calligraphy are very much in 
harmony with the content of the text. The 
Daoist Sutra of Constant Purity and Tranquility. 
The sutra is traditionally believed to have 
been transmitted orally for many genera- 
tions from the mythical Daoist sage Laozi 
(act. sixth century B.C.) and to have been 
first transcribed by Gc Xuan during the Wu 
dynasty (222-80) of the Three Kingdoms 
period (220-65). 



The text of the sutra expresses the idea 
that if one can constantly rid oneself of 
desire, the heart (mind) will be naturally 
tranquil; once the heart (mind) is clear, the 
spirit will naturally be purified. Further, 
one way to achieve the purified state is not 
to fight or contend. One who is enlightened 
(by this teaching) will reach the realm of 
constant purity and tranquility and will be 
protected by various sages and avoid ca- 
lamity. 

The signature at the end of the sutra is 
"Suijinggong daoren" (The Daoist of 
the Palace of Dragon King), a sobriquet of 
the famous scholar-official-calligraphcr- 
painter Zhao Mengfu. 

Born in Wuxing in Zhejiang Province, 
Zhao Mengfu was a descendant of the Song 
imperial family. He is also known by the 
names Ziang and Songxue. Between 1286 
and 1295, Zhao Mengfu served the new 
Mongol rulers in the Hanlin Academy, and 
during his stay in the north was exposed 
to the great tradition of early calligraphy 
and to the painting of the Tang (618-907) 
and Northern Song (960-1127) dynasties. 
Alter developing his synthesis of past styles, 
Zhao advocated the influential movement 
called "revival of the past," which domi- 
nated all calligraphy and painting of the 
Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). 

Zhao excelled in every script type. Al- 
though his semicursive and standard scripts 
are the most famous of his works, his 
contemporaries praised his small standard 
script as his best. The calligraphy in the 
Freer collection is not dated by the artist; it 
belongs stylistically to his early work, in 
the period around 1292, before he had 
established his own distinctly personal style. 

Zhao wrote the sutra on silk instead of 
on paper, the more common writing mate- 
rial in China after the fourth century. He 
chose silk for this ancient sutra to give it an 
antique appearance. Although Zhao Mengfu 
was probably under forty when he created 
the sutra, the perfection he achieved by 
diligent practice was already difficult to 
equal. Moreover, the charm of the sutra, 
which one senses in its tenderness and 
freshness, is missing in most of his later 
works, and thus makes this scroll even 
more admirable. 



References: Toyama Gunji, Zhang Jizhi, Zhao Mengfu 
in Shodd geijitsii, vol. 7; Chu-tsing Li, "The Freer Sheep 
and Goat and Chao Meng-fu's Horse Paintings," 
Artibus Asiae 30, no. 4 (1968): 279-326; Chu-tsing Li, 
The Autumn Colors on the Ch'iao and Hua Mountains: A 
Landscape by Chao Meng-fu (Ascona: Artibus Asiae 
Publishers, 1965). 




detail showing Zhao Mengfu's signature and 
seals 



detail 



30 



7 Songs of Fishermen 



cursive script 

painting and calligraphy by Wu Zhen (1280-13 54) 
China, Yuan dynasty; inscription dated 1352 
handscroll; ink on paper 

height 32.5 cm (i2'yi6 in); length 562.2 cm. (22iy8 in) 
37-12 



This long handscroll depicts lake scenery 
with a series of fishing boats, each of which 
contains a solitary figure. Wu Zhen in- 
scribed a poem next to each fisherman and 
wrote one long colophon at the end of 
the scroll. 

All of the calligraphy is small-size cursive 
script, with some occasional running 
(semicursive) script. Not many characters 
are linked together. Some of Wu Zhen's 
brush method is derived from the cursive 
script called zhaiigcao, based on the earlier 
clerical script, which was popular during 
the late Yuan period (1271-1368). 

Wu Zhen generally tollowed the calli- 
graphic style of the Tang master Huaisu (ca. 
735-800), but he occasionally alternated 
characters written in heavy and thick brush 
strokes with those composed ot light and 
thin strokes. In this way, he created a special 
rhythm and style of his own. Aside from 
Wu's achievements as a cursive calligrapher, 
his fame rests mainly on his accomplish- 
ments as one of the tour great master 
painters of the late Yuan period. The other 
three masters were Huang Gongwang 
(1269-13 54), Ni Zan (i 301-13 74), and 
Wang Meng (ca. 1301-1385). Wu exerted 
great influence on later artists, especially 
those of the Ming dynasty (i 368-1644). 

An inscription made by an artist on his 
own work is the more significant statement 
compared to an inscription added by an- 
other calligrapher. This type of self-inscrip- 
tion usually constitutes a more intimate 
and informative portion of a scroll. 

The tradition of adding long inscriptions 
became popular among fourteenth-century 
Chinese scholar-painters, who also excelled 
in calligraphy. The inscriptions usually are 
composed in prose or poetic form although 
on occasion both forms are combined. Wu 
Zhen's self-inscription on his Fishermen 
scroll is an example that includes both prose 
and poetry. 

Wu Zhen, a native ofjiaxing, Zhejiang 



Province, never served the Mongol govern- 
ment in an official capacity. He made his 
living first as a Daoist diviner and later as a 
literatus painter. Because he insisted upon 
maintaining his own standards in painting, 
he remained unpopular during his lifetime. 

Although it is important to have poems 
and self-inscriptions as integral parts of a 
scroll, the quality of their calligraphy can 
either enhance or detract from the total 
aesthetic response. Consequently, only the 
most outstanding Chinese scholar-paintcr- 
calligraphers had the confidence to add 
inscriptions directly onto their paintings. 

According to Wu s inscription, dated in 
1352, on the Freer scroll, he painted the 
composition ten years earlier than the 
inscription. The painting was inspired by a 
version of the same theme in Tang style 
by the tenth-century painter Jing Hao. 
Colophons on another version of the Fisher- 
men scroll by Wu Zhen, in the collection of 
the Shanghai Museum, inform us that the 
composition was inspired by the eighth- 
century Tang Daoist poet-recluse-painter 
Zhang Zhiho, who is credited with having 
initiated Soni^s of Fishermen. Statements in 
both the Freer and the Shanghai colophons 
tell us that Wu Zhen composed the poems 
on the Freer scroll in the style of Zhang 
Zhiho. 

Examination of the Freer painting reveals 
that among the fifteen fishermen, only three 
or four are seriously fishing. Most of the 
"fishermen" wear official hats, a symbol 
that they are actually fugitive bureaucrats. 
They are recluses who want only to be left 
alone; they seldom fish but instead drift 
along, enjoying the scenery or just napping. 
The poems written alongside the fishermen 
further reinforce this interpretation. A few 
examples, such as a poem written above a 
boat moored under the shade of a large tree, 
clearly express the prevailing mood. The 
poem may be translated as follows: 



The mountains are brightened by the reflection 

from the sunset clouds, 
The sky became cloudy or clear depending on the 

appearance or disappearance of the clouds, 
The wind blew, the waves rose; 
Listening to the sound oj rain in the night under 

the empty straw covering. 

Another poem, on the left of the one just 
quoted, appears above the fisherman who 
is throwing out his fishing line: 

For no reasons tliat [I] fish at the middle of the 
lake, 

The fish is big, the boat is too light to stand it, 
Worrying about turning over, tie the fish, the 

boat moving up and down. 
Everything should touch lightly and not get 

involved too deeply. 

A final poem is written at the end of the 
lake scene: 

Wlien the waves oj the five lakes float with the 
petals of peach blossoms, it is the time of 
spring. 

My small boat floats as a leaf blown by the wind 

to ten thousand miles away. 
The fish line is too fine, the fragrant bait is 

gone. 

Ah! originally he is not a fisherman at all! 

Through the poems, we understand that 
Wu Zhen obviously was not trying solely 
to paint a portrait of the fisherman. His aim 
was to state that he was not a professional 
painter but was using poetry and painting as 
a form of refuge. 

References: Fu and Nakata 1981-83, vol. 3, color plate 
I, pis. 25-28, pp. 146-48; James F. Cahill, Hills 
Beyond a River: Chinese Painting of the Yuan Dynasty, 
i27g-i}68 (New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1976); 
James F. Cahill, "Wu Chen, A Chinese Landscapist and 
Bamboo Painter of the Fourteenth Century" (Ph.D. 
diss., University of Michigan, 1958). 




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4 



Chinese Calligraphy 33 



8 Colophon to a Daoist Sutra by Zhao Mengfu 



cursive script 

by Kangli Naonao (1295-1345) 
China, Yuan dynasty; dated 1344 
handscroll; ink on paper 

height 29 cm {iiVu^ in); length 52.5 cm (2o"/i6 in) 
80.8b 



Although the text of this scroll is a Daoist 
sutra, it was calligraphed by Zhao Mengfu 
(1254-1322), an extraordinary calligrapher, 
and was thus ensured of being treated as a 
major work of art. Certainly this was the 
expectation expressed by the colophon 
writer Kangli Naonao, who was also a 
renowned calligrapher. 

Kangli was a younger contemporary of 
Zhao's. After he had established his own 
reputation as a great calligrapher, he was 
asked to write a colophon on this scroll 
written by Zhao Mengfu, a person with 
whom Kangli shared fame and influence. 
Because he was the younger master, Kangli 
tried his best to compose and write the 
colophon in such a way that it could coexist 
side by side with the calligraphy of Zhao 
Mengfu and be compared favorably with it 
by generation after generation of critics. 
There is no doubt that Kangli Naonao 
wrote the colophon in the hope that it 
would be judged as a major example of his 
calligraphy. 

A colophon is an inscription placed at the 
end of a book or manuscript, usually pro- 
viding facts related to the content of the 
specific work. On Chinese handscrolls and 




detail showing Kangli Naonao's signature and 
seals 



album leaves, colophons usually follow 
the painting or calligraphy and the artist's 
self-inscription. The content of the colo- 
phons ranges from comments relating to art 
appreciation, interpretation, art criticism, 
and provenance to the work's actual mone- 
tary value. The literary style of the colo- 
phons can vary, generally falling into the 
two large categories of prose and poetry. 

Colophon writers have been contempora- 
ries of the artist or calligrapher, as well as 
artists, scholars, connoisseurs, and collec- 
tors of later generations. Many early Chi- 
nese colophon writers were connoisseur- 
collectors, knowledgeable art lovers, and 
amateur artists. This particular colophon 
was written by an outstanding connoisseur- 
collector. 

This colophon in tourteen lines was 
written in cursive script, interspersed with 
some characters in running (semicursive) 
script. With a single exception, in which 
two characters are linked together, all of the 
characters are written separately. Together 
with some of the characteristic knifelike, 
right-diagonal strokes, the work displays a 
type of cursive script, zhan(^cao, which 
was developed earlier than the regular 
cursive script. 

The brushwork is clean, precise, and 
elegant, yet energetic. The curving strokes 
are smooth and flexible. In writing the 
characters, Kangli Naonao alternated be- 
tween thin and thick strokes and shifted 
rhythmically from light to heavy. The 
structure of the characters is tight and 
narrow with a strong, right, upward slant. 

In the first three columns, Kangli started 
slowly, using smooth semicursive script; 
then he increased his tempo and wrote in a 
more cursive style for the major portion 
of the colophon. When Kangli Naonao had 
completed the colophon, he returned to a 
slower tempo and added the date and his 
signature. 

Kangli lived a generation later than Zhao 
Mengfu; in the colophon, he expresses his 
admiration for the older master, who had 
died in 1322, twenty-two years earlier. His 
colophon may be rendered as follows: 

Mr. Zhao Wenmin [Mengfu] liked to write 
Daoist sutras which were scattered among many 
famous [temples in] mountains. This is one of 
them. Amoiii^ the extant works by the master 
Wang Xizhi [ca. 303-ca. 361], only the 



Huangting sutra is the best. Now I looked at the 
Sutra of Constant Purity and Tranquility 
written by Mr. Zhao, which is as airy as though 
being transformed into an immortal floating 
above the clouds. The senior [master, Zhao 
Mengfu] praised the brushwork of Wang 
Xizhi's Daoist sutra as refined and marvelous 
and meant for the divine class. It was really the 
same idea [in this work by Zhao Mengfu]. 
On the sixteenth day of the fifth month of 
the fourth year [1344] in the Zhizheng era 
[1341-68]. Written at the West pavilion of the 
mansion of the Duke Henan by Kangli Nao. 

Kangli Nao (also known as Kangli 
Naonao and Kangli Zishan) was a high 
official of the Mongol government. During 
the Tianli period (1328-30) he supervised 
the imperial collection of painting and 
calligraphy. Kangli was also the tutor of the 
young Emperor Shundi (ruled 1341-67). 
Although he was a descendant of the Central 
Asia Kangli tribe from the northern shore 
of the Aral Sea in southern Russia, Kangli 
Naonao was well trained in Chinese history 
and the Chinese classics. Like many Mon- 
gols during the Yuan period (1279-1368), 
he was deeply influenced by Chinese culture 
and became a traditional Confucianist. 

In calligraphy Kangli Naonao gained 
special fame for his cursive script. The 
anecdote told by his contemporaries is that 
upon hearing that the great master Zhao 
Mengfu could write ten thousand characters 
per day, Kangli replied that he habitually 
wrote thirty thousand per day. Whether or 
not the story is an exaggeration, it is a 
testament to Kangli's diligence and speed, 
which are two of his outstanding traits. 
During Kangli's later years, his fame as a 
calhgraphcr was as great as Zhao Mengfu 's, 
and the two men were frequently referred 
to by later contemporaries as "Zhao from 
the South" and "Kangli from the North." 
This colophon and the text that precedes it 
provide, therefore, a rare combination of 
calligraphy by these two outstanding mas- 
ters. 

References: Fu and Nakata 1981-83, vol. 3, pis. 16 and 
17, pp. 137-38; Fu 1977. 



34 



Chinese Calligraphy 35 



9 Colophon to the Painting "A Breath of Spring" by Zou Fulei 

semicursive script 

by Yang Weizhen (1296-1370) 

China, Yuan dynasty; inscription dated 1361 

handscroll; ink on paper 

height 35.8 cm {14VS in); length 329 cm (i 29^/2 in) 
31. 1 



Yang Weizhen, a renowned scholar-poet and 
calligrapher, was a close friend of the Daoist 
painter Zou Fulei. Yang was inspired by 
Zou's painting of a plum branch, and few of 
his other calligraphic works match the 
quality of his colophon on the Freer hand- 
scroll. Yang's untrammeled and unrestrained 
colophon is well suited to Zou's powerful 
painting. His poem and postinscription 
praise Zou Fulei and Zou's brother, and 
records his meeting with them. The colo- 
phon supplies the only firsthand material 
concerning Zou Fulei, for whom biographi- 
cal details would otherwise be lost. 

The size of the characters in the colophon 
varies, and the number of characters within 
each column varies from one to four. Yang 
Weizhen also varied his brush strokes, trom 
exceptionally thin to exceptionally broad, 
and his use of the ink from a thick applica- 
tion to a smoky film. There is almost no 
space between the individual columns 
of calligraphy. As a result, Yang Weizhen's 
colophon has a potent total design, with 
large black characters surrounded by smaller 
characters, and smoky strokes juxtaposed 
with those that are written in broad, solid, 
dark ink. 

Yang Weizhen applied inner tension and 
heavy pressure in each stroke of his brush, 
creating some naturally wavy vertical 
strokes and others that are jerky and at right 
diagonals. The lifted tails of his diagonal 
strokes and dots are the remnants of archaic 
cursive script. Yang enriched his calligraphy 



by mixing different script types, which 
range trom cursive to semistandard, and 
introducing characters of different struc- 
tures, from squarish to circular. The rich 
variety and strong contrast lend a modern 
feeling to this mid-fourteenth-century 
calligraphic work. 

The colophon by Yang may be divided 
into two sections: an eight-line regular 
poem in seven-character meter, and a 
postinscription. The poem presents a con- 
temporary appraisal of Zou Fulei and his 
brother, Zou Fuyuan: 

There are two Fus among the Daoists at 
Hedong, 

Both men are not common and belong to the 
unmortals, 

The younger Fu paitits pUims like Huaguang, 
The elder Fu paints bamboo like Wen Tong, 
Wen Tung [the elder Fu] ivent away [died] like 

a [painted] dragon breaking down a wall, 
Huaguang [the younger Fu] retains the breath 

of spring, 

The Sage of the Great Tree is in deep dreaming, 
The bluebirds sing while he is dreaming at the 
dawn} 

In the postinscription, written in smaller 
characters than the poem, Yang Weizhen 
mentions that he visited the two Fu brothers 
and saw their paintings. After tea, Zou 
Fulei brought out paper and asked for 
Yang's inscription. It is dated the seventh 
month of 1361, one year after Zou com- 



pleted his painting. 

Although Zou Fulei was not a well- 
known artist, the Freer scroll can be ranked 
as one of the best plum-flower paintings of 
any period. The powerful trunk and 
branches must have inspired Yang to pro- 
duce such impassioned calligraphy for 
his colophon. Of the dozen of Yang's extant 
works, this is considered the most exciting. 

Yang Weizhen was also known by the 
names Lianfu, Tieyai, and Tieti daoren. His 
father built a library — surrounded by 
hundreds of plum trees — that held a collec- 
tion of many tens of thousands of books. 
Yang's father let his son study upstairs 
in the library and, to ensure uninterrupted 
concentration, would take away the movable 
staircase. Yang Weizhen became one of the 
most learned scholars and poets of his 
generation. After giving up an official ca- 
reer, he became an influential teacher and 
literatus at Songjiang near Shanghai, al- 
though he was a native of Shaoxing, Zhe- 
jiang Province. 

Yang Weizhen's forceful personality, 
dominated by an honest character and 
straightforward manner, contributed to his 
singular eccentricity, which was the root 
of the term "Tieyai style" used to describe 
his poetry. Although Yang's calligraphy was 
not regarded in the same way, his vibrant 
and unique style is immediately recogniz- 
able. Traditional criticism toward his callig- 
raphy is mixed. Critics thought it was 
interesting and untrammeled, yet not up to 



% ^ 4 

-li ^ *^ 

[. i ^ 
% 't ^ I 

13 i 4- ^ <a? 



11 m 




Zou Fulei's A Breath of Spring 



36 




detail ot colophon by Yang Wcizhcn 



the highest standards because it was too 
eccentric and unorthodox. To modern eyes, 
however, his calHgraphy is picturesque and 
visually attractive, with no taint of superfi- 
cial or flamboyant movements. 

I. Adapted from Archibald G. Wenley's translation in 
Archibald G. Wenley, "'A Breath of Spring' by Tsou 
Fu-lei," Ars Orieiitalis 2 (1957): 459-69. 



Reference; Fu and Nakata 1981-83, vol. 4, pis. 8-10, 
pp. 138-40. 



overleaf: detail, cat. no. 9 




Chinese Calligraphy 37 



9 Colophon to the Painting "A Breath of Spring" by Zou Fulei 



semicursive script 
by Yang Weizhcn {1296-13 70) 
China, Yuan dynasty; inscription dated 1361 
* handscroU; ink on paper 
height 35.8 cm (i4'/a in); length 329 cm (i29'/2 in) 
31-1 



Yang Weizhen, a renowned scholar-poet and 
calhgraphcr, was a close friend of the Daoist 
painter Zou Fulci. Yang was inspired by 
Zou's painting of a plum branch, and few of 
his other calligraphic works match the 
quality of his colophon on the Freer hand- 
scroll. Yang's untrammeled and unrestrained 
colophon is well suited to Zou's powerful 
painting. His poem and postinscription 
praise Zou Fulei and Zou's brother, and 
records his meeting with them. The colo- 
phon supplies the only firsthand material 
concerning Zou Fulei, for whom biographi- 
cal details would otherwise be lost. 

The size of the characters in the colophon 
varies, and the number of characters within 
each column varies from one to four. Yang 
Weizhen also varied his brush strokes, from 
exceptionally thin to exceptionally broad, 
and his use of the ink from a thick apphca- 
tion to a smoky film. There is almost no 
space between the individual columns 
of calligraphy. As a result, Yang Weizhen's 
colophon has a potent total design, with 
large black characters surrounded by smaller 
characters, and smoky strokes juxtaposed 
with those that are written in broad, solid, 
dark ink. 

Yang Weizhen applied inner tension and 
heavy pressure in each stroke of his brush, 
creating some naturally wavy vertical 
strokes and others that arc jerky and at right 
diagonals. The hfted tails of his diagonal 
strokes and dots are the remnants of archaic 
cursive script. Yang enriched his calligraphy 



by mixing different script types, which 
range from cursive to semistandard, and 
introducing characters of different struc- 
tures, from squarish to circular. The rich 
variety and strong contrast lend a modern 
feeling to this mid-fourteenth-century 
calligraphic work. 

The colophon by Yang may be divided 
into two sections: an eight-hne regular 
poem in seven-character meter, and a 
postinscription. The poem presents a con- 
temporary appraisal of Zou Fulei and his 
brother, Zou Fuyuan: 

There are two Fus among the Daoists at 
Hedong, 

Both men are not common and belong to the 
immortals, 

The younger Fn paints plums like Huaguatig, 
The elder Fu paints bamboo like Wen Tong, 
Wen Timg [the elder Fu] went aivay [died] like 

a [painted] dragon breaking down a wall, 
Huaguang [the younger Fu] retains the breath 

of spring, 

The Sage of the Great Tree is in deep dreaming, 
The bluebirds sing while he is dreaming at the 
dawn: 

In the postinscription, written in smaller 
characters than the poem, Yang Weizhen 
mentions that he visited the two Fu brothers 
and saw their paintings. After tea, Zou 
Fulei brought out paper and asked for 
Yang's inscription. It is dated the seventh 
month of 1361, one year after Zou com- 



pleted his painting. 

Although Zou Fulei was not a well- 
known artist, the Freer scroll can be ranked 
as one of the best plum-flower paintings of 
any period. The powerful trunk and 
branches must have inspired Yang to pro- 
duce such impassioned calligraphy for 
his colophon. Of the dozen of Yang's extant 
works, this is considered the most exciting. 

Yang Weizhen was also known by the 
names Lianfu, Tieyai, and Ticti daoren. His 
father built a library — surrounded by 
hundreds of plum trees — that held a collec- 
tion of many tens of thousands of books. 
Yang's father let his son study upstairs 
in the library and, to ensure uninterrupted 
concentration, would take away the movable 
staircase. Yang Weizhen became one of the 
most learned scholars and poets of his 
generation. After giving up an official ca- 
reer, he became an influential teacher and 
literatus at Songjiang near Shanghai, al- 
though he was a native of Shaoxing, Zhe- 
jiang Province. 

Yang Weizhen's forceful personality, 
dominated by an honest character and 
straightforward manner, contributed to his 
singular eccentricity, which was the root 
of the term "Tieyai style" used to describe 
his poetry. Although Yang's calligraphy was 
not regarded in the same way, his vibrant 
and unique style is immediately recogniz- 
able. Traditional criticism toward his callii 
raphy is mixed. Critics thought it was 
interesting and untrammeled, yet not up to 



0 





detail of colophon by Yang Weizhei 



the highest standards because it was too 
eccentric and unorthodox. To modern eyes, 
however, his calligraphy is picturesque and 
visually attractive, with no taint of superfi- 
cial or flamboyant movements. 

I. Adapted from Archibald G. Wenlcy's translation in 
Archibald G. Wenlcy, '"A Breath of Spring' by Tsou 
Fu-lei," Ars Orienlalis 2 (1957): 459-69. 



i * ■ - 

-\ ^i^^^ Ik 
] ^ « ^ 

i * I 

'S ^ I 



Zou Fulei 's A Breath of Spring 



36 




Chinese Calligraphy 37 



10 Frontispiece of the Painting ''Seven Scholars Going through the Pass 

small seal script 

by Cheng Nanyun (act. 1400-1450) 
China, Ming dynasty (i 368-1644) 
handscroll; ink on paper 

height 25.7 cm (10V4 in); length 92.9 cm (36716 in) 
16.184 




Five large-size characters written in standard 
seal script (or small seal script) form the 
frontispiece of this handscroll painting. In 
this frontispiece, the characters provide the 
title of the painting, which may be literally 
translated as Picture of Seven Scholars Goiit<^ 
through the Pass. 

The individual strokes of these five 
characters are written in even thickness. 
The brush tip is hidden at both the begin- 
ning and end of each stroke. Even the 
joinings of the circular elements are con- 
cealed. The corners of the characters are 
smooth and round. Although there are 
many curves in the five characters that make 
up the title, each stroke is like a steel rod, 
strong and solid. The structure of individual 
characters is either symmetrical or, if asym- 
metrical, well balanced. Each stroke is an 
integral part of a precalculated perfect 
design. 

Cheng Nanyun used a regular brush, 
with a special technique to conceal the sharp 
tip. He turned his brush evenly and steadily 
to avoid angular corners. Every stroke is 
perfectly polished, each character well 
constructed. To balance the simple charac- 
ters on the right, Cheng reduced the size of 
the fifth character on the left. At the end 
of the title, he signed his name in regular 
script: "Written by the bureau director 
in the Ministry of Personnel, also the 
calligrapher-in-waiting at the Hanlin Acad- 
emy, Cheng Nanyun." 

Cheng Nanyun was a native of Jiangxi 
Province. Early in the Yonglo period (1403- 
24) he was summoned to serve as a calligra- 
pher to the Central Drafting Office. Cheng 
was a colleague and close friend of the 
famous painter of bamboo, Xia Chang 
(1388-1470). Cheng Nanyun was also 
known as a painter of bamboo and plum in 
the snow. He was famous as a calligrapher 
for both seal and standard scripts, but 
almost all of the many frontispieces written 
by him are in seal script. Judging from his 
signature, Cheng's standard script is typical 
of the neat and polished court style of the 
early Ming dynasty. 

During the Zhengtong period (1436-49), 
Cheng Nanyun served as the chief minister 
at the Court of Imperial Sacrifice at Nan- 
jing. The standard seal script he used for the 
title of the Freer handscroll is based on the 
official script of the Qin dynasty (221- 






207 B.C.). Cheng followed that calligraphic 
tradition twelve hundred years later, 
through the model provided by the Yishan 
stele (219 B.C.) and further influenced by the 
style of the Tang seal master Li Yangbing 
(act. 759-80). Seal script was used as a 
formal, more classic or decorative script in 
the later periods. Cheng Nanyun is consid- 
ered one of the most important seal-script 
calligraphers of the early Ming period. 

A frontispiece is usually an illustration 
preceding and facing the title page of a 
book or magazine. In Chinese painting and 
calligraphy, however, a frontispiece gener- 
ally refers to the calHgraphic section preced- 
ing the main work, regardless of whether 
the work is of painting or calligraphy, or 
whether it is in album or handscroll format. 

In content, a calligraphic frontispiece 
most often records the title of the work, 
although it sometimes may be a laudatory 
phrase or, less often, a poem. The calligra- 
phy in a frontispiece is usually written in 
large-size characters in any of the different 
scripts. Before poetic couplets became 



popular, frontispieces dating from the Yuan 
(1279-1368) and Ming dynasties provided 
many rare examples of large-size calligra- 
phy. Archaic scripts such as seal and clerical 
are more formal than standard and running 
scripts. Consequently, Chinese calligraphers 
frequently wrote frontispieces in the archaic 
scripts. Cursive script, which is strikingly 
informal, is seldom used for a frontispiece. 

References: Fu and Nakata 1981-83, Ming Qing, vol. I, 
fig. 3, pp. 159-60; Lawton 1973, pp. 74-76. 



40 




detail trom Seven Scholars Goitii; thron'^h the Pass, anonymous, Ming dynasty 



Chinese Calligraphy 41 



il 



10 Frontispiece of the Paititiii^^ "Seven Scholars Going through the Pass" 




small sea] script 

by Cheng Nanyun (act. 1400-1450) 
China, Ming dynasty (1368-1644) 
handscroll; ink on paper 

height 25.7 cm (10V4 in); length 92.9 cm (jCyit. in) 
16.184 



Five large-size characters written in standard 
seal script (or small seal script) form the 
frontispiece of this handscroll painting. In 
this frontispiece, the characters provide the 
title of the paintmg, which may be literally 
translated as Picture ofSet'Cti Scholars Going 
through the Pass. 

The individual strokes of these five 
characters arc written in even thickness. 
The brush tip is hidden at both the begin- 
ning and end of each stroke. Even the 
joinings of the circular elements are con- 
cealed. The comers of the characters arc 
smooth and round. Although there are 
many curves in the five characters that make 
up the title, each stroke is like a steel rod, 
strong and solid. The structure of individual 
characters is cither symmetrical or, if asym- 
metrical, well balanced. Each stroke is an 
integral part of a prccalculatcd perfect 
design. 

Cheng Nanyun used a regular brush, 
with a special technique to conceal the sharp 
tip. He turned his brush evenly and steadily 
to avoid angular corners. Every stroke is 
perfectly polished, each character well 
constructed. To balance the simple charac- 
ters on the right, Cheng reduced the size of 
the fifth character on the left. At the end 
of the title, he signed his name in regular 
script: "Written by the bureau director 
in the Ministry of Personnel, also the 
calligrapher-in-waiting at the Hanlin Acad- 
emy, Cheng Nanyun." 

Cheng Nanyun was a native of Jiangxi 
Province. Early in the Yonglo period (1403- 
24) he was summoned to serve as a calligra- 
phcr to the Central Drafting Office. Cheng 
was a colleague and close friend of the 
famous painter of bamboo. Xia Chang 
(1388-1470). Cheng Nanyun was also 
known as a painter of bamboo and plum in 
the snow. He was famous as a calligrapher 
for both seal and standard scripts, but 
almost all of the many frontispieces written 
by him are in seal script. Judging from his 
signature, Cheng's standard script is typical 
of the neat and polished court style of the 
early Ming dynasty. 

During the Zhengtong period {1436-49), 
Cheng Nanyun served as the chief minister 
at the Court of Imperial Sacrifice at Nan- 
jing. The standard seal script he used for the 
title of the Freer handscroll is based on the 
official script of the Qin dynasty (221- 



207 B.C.). Cheng followed that calligraphic 
tradition twelve hundred years later, 
through the model provided by the Yishan 
stele (219 B.C.) and further influenced by the 
style of the Tang seal master Li Yangbmg 
(act. 759-80), Seal script was used as a 
formal, more classic or decorative script in 
the later periods. Cheng Nanyun is consid- 
ered one of the most important seal-script 
calligraphcrs of the early Mmg period. 

A frontispiece is usually an illustration 
preceding and facing the title page of a 
book or magazine. In Chinese painting and 
calligraphy, however, a frontispiece gener- 
ally refers to the calligraphic section preced- 
ing the mam work, regardless of whether 
the work is of painting or calligraphy, or 
whether it is in album or handscroll format. 

In content, a calligraphic frontispiece 
most often records the title of the work, 
although it sometimes may be a laudatory 
phrase or, less often, a poem. The calligra- 
phy in a frontispiece is usually written in 
large-size characters in any of the different 
scripts. Before poetic couplets became 



popular, frontispieces dating from the Yuan 
(1279-1368) and Ming dynasties provided 
many rare examples of large-size calligra- 
phy. Archaic scripts such as seal and clerical 
are more formal than standard and running 
scripts. Consequently, Chinese calligraphers 
frequently wrote frontispieces in the archaic 
scripts. Cursive script, which is strikingly 
informal, is seldom used for a frontispiece. 

References; Fu and Nakata 1981-83. Ming Qing. vol. i, 
f'g 3, pp 159-60; Lawton 1973. PP- 74-76- 



40 




Chinese Cailigraphy 41 



II Preface of the Lanting Gathering by Wang Xizhi 



semicursive script 
by Wen Zhengming (i 470-1 559) 
China, Ming dynasty; dated 1553 
handscroll; ink on paper 

height 24.9 cm (9'yi6 in); length 139.2 cm (54*^16 in) 
10.6 



Guided by the vertical grid, the calhgraphy 
in this preface is in semicursive script, 
arranged in spacious vertical columns. 
Although the brushwork is fluent and 
speedy, each stroke is nevertheless substan- 
tive and full of energy. The fine tips of the 
individual strokes are as sharp as needles, 
and the heavy strokes appear as if carved 
into a wooden surface. Structurally, the 
characters are rich in variation, elegant, and 
sturdy. 

Wen Zhengming, who before 15 10 was 
called Wen Bi, was born into a prominent 
Suzhou family of scholars and collectors. A 
leading painter, calligrapher, and scholar of 
the mid-Ming period, Wen Zhengming 
studied the classics with Wu Kuan (1435- 
1504), painting with Shen Zhou (1427- 
1509), and calligraphy with Li Yingzhen 
(1431-1493). Together with his literary 
friends Zhu Yunming (1461-1527), Tang 
Yin (1470-1523), and Xu Zhenqing (1479- 
151 1), Wen Zhengming was known as one 
of the Four Talents of Wu (Suzhou). During 
his long life, Wen Zhengming had a pro- 
found influence on several generations 
of artistic and literary figures, including 
Chen Shun (1483-1544) and Wang Chong 
(1494-1533), whose works are also repre- 
sented in this catalogue (see cat. nos. 13 and 
14). In calligraphy Wen Zhengming excelled 
in all the major scripts: seal, clerical, stan- 
dard, semicursive, and cursive. Among 
them, he most often practiced semicursive 
script, following the style of the master 
calligrapher Wang Xizhi (ca. 303-ca. 361). 
Shengjiao xu (Preface of Buddha's Teachings) 
and Lantitig xu (Preface of the Lanting Gather- 
ing) by Wang Xizhi were Wen Zhengming's 
two major models. 

Wang Xizhi composed and calligraphcd 
the original Preface of the Lanting Gathering 
during a famous literary gathering at 
Lanting in the spring of a.d. 353. While 
scholars and poets composed poetry and 
drank wine, Wang Xizhi used a brush made 
from mice whiskers to write his famous 
essay on paper made of silk cocoons: 

All the worthies, old and young, gather together 
at a place with lofty mountains and tall peaks, 
surrounded by lushy forest and slender bamboo. 
. . . there is a clear running brooklet and rushing 
stream winding around and we sit along it 
drinking and chanting. . . . That day the sky 
was cloudless; the wind blew softly. . . . Here 



chimed around us every music that can soothe the 
ear; was spread before us every color that can 
delight the eye. 

It was in this kind of poetic atmosphere 
that Wang Xizhi produced his immortal 
literature and calligraphy. Although he 
made a few corrections on his first draft, it 
was to remain his best version; Wang Xizhi 
could never again achieve the spontaneity 
and rich variation of the original draft, even 
though he repeatedly tried to produce a 
better final work. Wang Xizhi's first draft 
thus became a family treasure until the 
lifetime of his seventh-generation descend- 
ant, when the manuscript finally went 
into the imperial collection of Emperor 
Tang Taizong (r. 626-49). The emperor was 
an admirer of Wang Xizhi, and in his own 
calligraphy followed Wang's style. The 
emperor ordered the best calligraphers in 
the court to make several close freehand 
copies of the Lanting manuscript. The 
original version was buried with the em- 
peror after his death in a.d. 649, but the 
freehand copies and many subsequent 
rubbings (see fig. 3) have served as models 
for later generations. In the entire history of 
calligraphy, the Preface of the Lanting Gather- 
ing is the most practiced, copied, and 
influential of any single piece of work by a 
Chinese calligrapher. 

On the third day of the third month of 
each year, Chinese poets and calligraphers 
of later generations followed the tradition of 
holding gatherings and copying the preface 
originally written by Wang Xizhi in a.d. 
353. The cyclical year when Wang Xizhi 
had the gathering was guichou; it was an 
especially important event among Chinese 
poets and calligraphers when they met on 
the same cyclical year, which recurs every 
sixty years. The postinscription by Wen 
Zhengming on the Freer scroll reads: 

On the twenty second day of spring in the 
guichou year at the bright window I opened the 
scroll to enjoy it then I leisurely transcribed the 
model calligraphy: Lanting preface by Zheng- 
ming at the age of eighty-four. 

The cyclical yezr guichou in the year 1553 
occurred exactly twelve hundred years after 
Wang Xizhi had written the original preface. 
It is reasonable to speculate that Wen wrote 
several versions of the preface during the 




Fig. 3. Song-dynasty rubbing (a Dingwu 
version) of Preface of the Lanting Gathering; ink on 
paper. Collection unknown. 



spring of that same year. During Wen 
Zhengming's entire life he must have writ- 
ten several hundred versions of the Preface of 
the Lanting Gathering, but there are only a 
half-dozen known today 

Wen Zhengming was so familiar with the 
model that he did not have to copy from the 
original. He simply transcribed the text 
from memory and still retained the essence 
of Wang Xizhi's calligraphic style; at the 
same time. Wen Zhengming's versions 
reveal his own distinguished style. This 
kind of "copy" certainly cannot be regarded 
as a practice piece. It is Wen Zhengming's 
deeply personal commentary upon the 
stylistic achievement of his model, as well 
as a display of a purely calligraphic per- 
formance in his interpretation of Wang 
Xizhi's Lanting preface. 

Wen Zhengming was about eighty-four 
years old in 1553, six years before his death, 
when he wrote the calligraphy for the 
Freer scroll. It is remarkable that a man of 
his advanced years produced such an ener- 
getic, precise, yet elegant work without any 
sign of decline in his calligraphy. 

References: Fu and Nakata 1981-83, Ming Qitig, vol. i, 
pis. 61 and 62, pp. 174-75; Richard Edwards, The Art 
of Wen Cheng-ming (1470-1359) (Ann Arbor: University 
of Michigan Museum of Art, 1976); Anne De Coursey 
Clapp, Wen Cheng-ming: The Ming Artists and Antiquity 
(Ascona: Artibus Asiae Publishers, 1975). 



42 



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details 



Chinese Calligraphy 43 



12 Three Letters 



semicursive script 

by Wang Shouren (1472-1529) 

China, Ming dynasty; first letter ca. 1524 

handscroll; ink on paper 

height 25.5 cm (10 in); length 225 cm (88^16 in) 
82.33 



The calligraphy in Wang Shouren's scroll of 
three letters is arranged with generous 
spacing between the columns. The structure 
of individual characters is elongated and 
tight. Wang Shouren used a springy and 
sharp brush that was ideally suited to his 
relatively strong and vivid wrist movement. 

The fluent, sharp, and forceful brush 
strokes are much like the calligraphic style 
of the great master Wen Zhengming (1470- 
1559; see cat. 11). Wang Shouren was two 
years younger than Wen Zhengming, but he 
died thirty years earlier. Because there was 
no close personal connection between the 
two calligraphers, the stylistic similarities 
between their work can be explained only 
by their having shared the same model: the 
Shengjiao xu (Preface of Buddha's Teachings) 
by the calligraphy sage Wang Xizhi (ca. 
303-ca. 361), who also wrote the original 
Preface of the Lariting Gathering (see cat. 
no. 11). 

Since this calligraphy scroll consists of 
three letters by Wang Shouren, the writing 
might be considered by some as being 
typical and not out of the ordinary. But 
China has a long history of appreciating 
correspondence as pieces of calligraphy. 
With only a few exceptions, for example, 
all of the hundreds of works attributed 
to Wang Xizhi are personal letters. The 
reasons for the regard for correspondence 
are several. In the centuries before exhibi- 
tions of calligraphy became popular in 
China, a personal letter was almost the only 
way to impress others with one's calligra- 
phy. Ancient masters, therefore, usually 
paid more attention to their correspondence 
than people do today. Letters were collected 
by friends or connoisseurs of later genera- 
tions. Sometimes, in the course of history, 
the letters were carved in stone so that 
rubbings could be made to serve as model 
calligraphies. All Chinese calligraphers were 
thus raised in a tradition that placed great 
emphasis upon copying letters by great 
masters from the past. When they wrote 
their letters, it was with the understanding 
that they would someday be collected by 
friends and later connoisseurs. Through 
spontaneously written correspondences, a 
calligrapher could reveal his training, culti- 
vation, and talent. Letters were traditionally 
important, moreover, because Chinese 
historians have always been interested in 



learning details about a calligrapher 's life 
through his letters. 

It is not essential to know the content of 
letters, such as these written by Wang 
Shouren, when trying to appreciate the 
calligraphy alone. Since these particular 
letters are not dated, however, an art histo- 
rian trying to place them within Wang 
Shouren's oeuvre would study the texts to 
know more about the calligrapher. 

Wang Shouren, philosopher and official 
as well as calligrapher, came from a family 
registered in Yuyao, Zhejiang Province, but 
resided most of the time in the prefectural 
city of Shaoxing. It was said that Wang was 
unable to speak until the age of four, but 
he exhibited a spirit of adventure and a 
questioning of orthodox beliefs, characteris- 
tics that helped to explain his future turbu- 
lent political career and dynamic thinking. 

Wang Shouren received the jinshi degree 
in 1499. After serving as a government 
official for three years, his health declined 
and he returned home to recuperate and 
contemplate at Yangming Mountain in 
Kuaiji Range. After that time, he became 
known as Wang Yangming. 

Central to Wang Shouren's best-known 
philosophy, which developed after 1 509, is 
that knowledge and action are one. He 
believed that knowledge is the beginning of 
action and action is the completion of 
knowledge. Wang Shouren was considered 
the most important and influential Chinese 
philosopher since the sixteenth century. In 
addition, he had a successful official career 
later in his life. He was the provincial 
governor of Guangdong and Guangxi 
provinces, and in that capacity settled a 
long-lasting local rebellion. It is generally 
acknowledged that among his contempo- 
rary civil officials, he was the most knowl- 
edgeable in matters of defense and strategy. 

Several points relating to the date of 
Wang Shouren's first letter in the Freer 
handscroll should be mentioned: Wang was 
in the mourning period for his deceased 
father when he wrote the letter; his first 
wife was seriously ill; and he wrote the 
letter before he married his second wife. 
From Wang Shouren's biography, we know 
that his father died in 1522 and that the 
official mourning period lasted three years. 
Second, we also know that Wang's first wife 
died in 1525, and that he remarried the 



same year. It is reasonable to suggest, there- 
fore, that the first letter in the Freer hand- 
scroll was written around 1524, about 
five years before the calligrapher's death. 
The recipient of the letter was one of Wang 
Shouren's relatives, Wang Bangxiang. 
With the letter, Wang Shouren also sent 
money and a request for Wang Bangxiang 
to order him a pair of black official shoes 
and the highest quality of strings for his 
lute. 




detail showing Wang Shouren's signature 



44 



13 ''Thoughts on Ancient Sites" by Du Fu 



wild-cursive script 
by Chen Shun (1483-1544) 
China, Ming dynasty; ca. 1540 
handscroll; ink on paper 

height 26.7 cm (10V2 in); length 769.7 cm (303'/i6 in) 
80.21 



Chinese calligraphers sometimes transcribed 
a text of their own composition, and on 
other occasions transcribed texts written by 
another person. Although it is obvious 
that a calligrapher can choose a text of any 
type, by any author, and from any period, it 
is equally true that the calligraphers choice 
may reflect his thoughts, taste, trainmg, and 
cultivation. Furthermore, a particular text 
may be fraught with emotional or cultural 
connotations that influence the mood of the 
calligrapher while he is writing. The excit- 
ing brush movements in this scroll by Chen 
Shun were to a degree inspired by the 
famous poems of the "sage of poetry," Du 
Fu (712-770) of the Tang dynasty (618- 
907). 

In this scroll, sweeping brush strokes 
move in a broad arching pattern across the 
paper; dots attack the paper from the air. 
The calligrapher clearly was in full charge 
of his exuberant energy. Chen Shun moved 
his suspended arm and brush at great speed. 
The ribbonlike strokes dance in the air in a 
rich variety of movements. The structure of 
characters varies from tight and small to 
extremely expansive and airy. The columns 
also vary; some contain several characters, 
others, only one. Hardly a character is 
written on a single vertical axis. The char- 
acters twist, shrink, stretch, and lean toward 
right or left; each one has its own manner 
and expression. 

The ink tonality also varies from dark to 
pale, wet to dry, opaque to smoky. This 
handscroll is visually one of Chen Shun's 
most exciting scrolls of calligraphy. Yet 
some critics may think that the ribbonlike 
strokes are too thin and flat, too light 
and without substance, and that the side- 
ways strokes are too scratchy. The sponta- 
neous movement cannot produce articulate 
strokes all the way through, which may 
be one of Chen's most criticized shortcom- 
ings. Otherwise, he would be considered as 
prominent as his teachers and contempora- 
ries, who are recognized as the great masters 
of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). 

Great speed in execution certainly relies 
on the individual calligraphers personality 
and character, but in this case the fluency 
was also aroused by the poems Chen Shun 
was transcribing. He must have memorized 
Du Fu's famous poems; it is evident that 
Chen was deeply moved by them and that 
their content constantly aroused his emo- 
tions. 



Although there are five poems originally 
included in Du Fu's "Thoughts on Ancient 
Sites," Chen Shun transcribed only three of 
them on this scroll. The last poem may be 
translated as: 

Chu-ko's great name hangs across the world, 
His portrait is majestic and pure. 
Triple division and separate states twisted his 
plans, 

A single feather in a sky of a thousand ages. 
Not better nor worse was he than Yi and Lii; 
Had his strategy succeeded, he would have bested 

Hsiao and Ts'ao. 
As revolving fate shifted the fortunes of Han, 

they could not be restored; 
His purpose was cut off and his body destroyed as 

he toiled with the army.^ 

Chen Shun's inscription, which appears 
after the third poem, reads: 

Written by Chen Daofu in a secluded place of 
the "Emerald Cloud Studio" at the Five Lakes 
Country Residence. 

Chen Shun (also known as Chen Daofu 
and Baiyang shanren) was a well-known 
painter and calligrapher of Suzhou and the 
eldest student of the master Wen Zheng- 
ming (1470-1559; see cat. no. 11). He came 
from a well-to-do family and frequently 
entertained artistic and literary friends at his 
Five Lakes Country Residence. Chen was 
not only an eminent calligrapher, but 
was also one of the most important and 
influential flower painters of the Ming 
period. The Freer scroll is one of his most 
cursive and exciting calligraphic scrolls, 
revealing the influence of Zhu Yunming 
(1461-1527) and of Tang-dynasty calligra- 
phers. 

Although the scroll is not dated, most of 
the works done by Chen Shun at the Five 
Lakes Country Residence can be assigned to 
the years between 1539 and 1542. The 
scroll may be stylistically dated around 
1540, about four years before the calligra- 
pher's death. 

I. Translation by Hans H. Frankel in Hans H. Frankel, 
The Floweriiij; Plum and the Palace Lady (New Haven, 
Conn.: Yale University Press, 1976), p. 118. 

References: Fu and Nakata 1981-83, Ming Qitig, vol. I, 
color plate 3, pis. 85-91, pp. 180-81; Fu 1977, pi. 55, 
pp. 92 and 234. 



46 





Chinese Calligraphy 47 



13 ''Thoughts on Ancient Sites" by Du Fu 



wild-cursivc script 
by Chen Shun (1483-1544) 
China, Ming dynasty; ca. 1540 
handscroll; ink on paper 

height 26.7 cm {10V2 in); length 769.7 cm (jOj'/u. in) 
So. 2 1 



Chinese calligraphers sometimes transcribed 
a text of their own composition, and on 
other occasions transcribed texts written by 
another person. Although it is obvious 
that a calligrapher can choose a text of any 
type, by any author, and from any period, it 
is equally true that the calligraphers choice 
may reflect his thoughts, taste, training, and 
cultivation. Furthermore, a particular text 
may be fraught with emotional or cultural 
connotations that influence the mood of the 
calligrapher while he is writing. The excit- 
ing brush movements in this scroll by Chen 
Shun were to a degree inspired by the 
famous poems of the "sage of poetry," Du 
Fu (712-770) of the Tang dynasty (618- 
907). 

In this scroll, sweeping brush strokes 
move in a broad arching pattern across the 
paper; dots attack the paper from the air. 
The calhgrapher clearly was in full charge 
of his exuberant energy. Chen Shun moved 
his suspended arm and brush at great speed. 
The ribbonlike strokes dance in the air in a 
rich variety of movements. The structure of 
characters vanes from tight and small to 
extremely expansive and airy. The columns 
also vary; some contain several characters, 
others, only one. Hardly a character is 
written on a single vertical axis. The char- 
acters twist, shnnk, stretch, and lean toward 
right or left; each one has its own manner 
and expression. 

The ink tonality also varies from dark to 
pale, wet to dry, opaque to smoky. This 
handscroll is visually one of Chen Shuns 
most exciting scrolls of calligraphy. Yet 
some critics may think that the ribbonlike 
strokes are too thin and flat, too Hght 
and without substance, and that the side- 
ways strokes are too scratchy. The sponta- 
neous movement cannot produce articulate 
strokes all the way through, which may 
be one of Chen's most criticized shortcom- 
ings. Otherwise, he would be considered as 
prominent as his teachers and contempora- 
ries, who are recognized as the great masters 
of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). 

Great speed in execution certainly relies 
on the individual calligraphers personality 
and character, but in this case the fluency 
was also aroused by the poems Chen Shun 
was transcnbing. He must have memorized 
Du Fu's famous poems; it is evident that 
Chen was deeply moved by them and that 
their content constantly aroused his emo- 
tions. 



Although there arc five poems originally 
included in Du Fu's "Thoughts on Ancient 
Sites," Chen Shun transcribed only three of 
them on this scroll. The last poem may be 
translated as: 

Chu-ko's great name hangs across the world, 
His portrait is majestic and pure. 
Triple division and separate slates twisted his 
plans, 

A single feather in a sky of a thousand ages. 
Not better nor worse was he than Yi and Lii; 
Had his strategy succeeded, he would have bested 

Hsiao and Ts'ao. 
As revolving fate shifted the fortunes of Han, 

they could not be restored; 
His purpose was cut off and his body destroyed as 

he toiled with the anny.^ 

Chen Shuns inscription, which appears 
after the third poem, reads: 

Written by Chen Daofu in a secluded place of 
the "Emerald Cloud Studio" at the Five Lakes 
Country Residence. 

Chen Shun (also known as Chen Daofu 
and Baiyang shanren) was a well-known 
painter and calligrapher of Suzhou and the 
eldest student of the master Wen Zheng- 
ming (1470-1559; see cat. no. 11). He came 
from a well-to-do family and frequently 
entertained artisric and htcrary friends at his 
Five Lakes Country Residence. Chen was 
not only an eminent calligrapher, but 
was also one of the most important and 
influential flower painters of the Ming 
period. The Freer scroll is one of his most 
cursive and exciting calligraphic scrolls, 
revealing the influence of Zhu Yunming 
(1461-1527) and of Tang-dynasty calligra- 
phers. 

Although the scroll is not dated, most of 
the works done by Chen Shun at the Five 
Lakes Country Residence can be assigned to 
the years between 1 539 and 1 542. The 
scroll may be stylistically dated around 
1540, about four years before the calligra- 
pher's death. 

I, Translation by Hans H, Frankcl in Hans H. Frankel. 
The Flowering Plum and the Palace Lady (New Haven, 
Conn.: Yale University Press, 1976}. p. 118. 

References: Fu and Nakata 1981-83. Ming Qing. vol. i, 
color plate 3. pis. 85-91. pp. 180-81; Fu 1977, pi. 55, 

pp. 92 and 234. 



46 




Chinese Calligraphy 47 



I 




detail, cat. no. 13 



48 



14 Six Quatrains on the Lotus Pond 



semicursive script 
by Wang Chong (1494-15 3 3) 
China, Ming dynasty; ca. 1528-29 
handscroll; ink on paper 

height 25.9 cm (loVui in); length 702.5 cm (276yi(. in) 
80.2 



The poems in this scroll were both com- 
posed and transcribed by Wang Chong. As 
a result, the concepts of the poetry and 
the quality of the calligraphy are coherently 
related. In works of this type, in which the 
text and calhgraphy are by the same person, 
the calligrapher's ideas, learning, training, 
and talent, as well as his cultivation and 
character, are more apparent than when the 
transcription is of a text by another author. 
In Wang Chong's scroll, the leisurely atmo- 
sphere, the beauty of the Lotus Pond, and 
the mood of the calligrapher are vividly 
displayed. 

The eighty-line handscroll was written in 
"running cursive" script, on sparsely gold- 
flecked colored paper. The heavy and sturdy 
brush strokes vary in pressure and speed; 
the characters vary in size. The entire scroll 
is filled with brilliant, exuberant spirit, with 
unexpected changes of form and a feeling 
of expansiveness. The calligraphy is out- 
standing in its monumentality and fresh- 
ness — especially with its lacquerlike rich 
black ink — as if written in a state of pure 
exhilaration. 

The scroll begins with the title of the 
poems: "Six Quatrains on the Lotus Pond." 
Renditions of the first, second, and fourth 
quatrains give the flavor of the contents: 

; 

From picking lotus at the Lotus Pond the girls 
return , 

as evening clouds thin out above the Nine 

Dragon Mountain. 
Their bodies light, leaning on the oars, they 

return to shore, 
the breath of flowers, and their own fragrance , 

flying with the waves. 

II 

Green mountains like a folding screen, emerald 

waters winding, 
and ten thousand lotus flowers bloom in patterns. 
Boats of song waving the oars beside the weeping 

willows, 

ten miles of prosperity amid the embroideries. 
IV 

All the families on this pond are selling lotus, 
the fifteen-year-old girl is good at counting 
the money. 

In front of the bramble gate is a tapestry of 
flowers, 

the old man is napping in the breeze beneath a 
tall tree. 




detail showing Wang Chong's signature 



At the end of the sixth quatrain, Wang 
Chong added an inscription that reads: 

Yesterday I talked with Yuan Yuzhi about the 
beauty of the Lotus Pond. Yuzhi said he did not 
know, so I composed and presented six quatrains 
to him, in the hope that they may take him on 
an "armchair journey." Wang Chong.^ 

Wang Chong, a poet and calligrapher, 
was a native of Suzhou. He studied with 
Cai Yu (ca. 1471-1541). Between 1510 and 
1 53 1, Wang Chong failed the provincial 
examinations eight times, and yet he was 
highly regarded by Wen Zhengming (1470- 
1559; see cat. no. 11) and his circle. Al- 
though Wang Chong died prematurely, to- 
gether with Zhu Yunming (i 461-1527) and 
Wen Zhengming he is considered one of 
the three great masters of calligraphy in the 
Ming dynasty. 

Although Wang Chong did not date the 
Freer scroll, it is clear from judging the 
style and biographical material that the 
poems were written around 1528-29, when 
the calligrapher was about thirty-five years 
old. Few other Chinese calligraphers 
achieved such high quality at such a young 
age. This scroll is also probably the best 
extant calligraphic work by Wang Chong. 

I. Adapted from a translation by Jonathan Chaves. 

References: Fu and Nakata 1981-X3, Ming Qing, vol. i, 
color plate 3, pis. 75-78, pp. 177-79; Fu 1977. pl- 57. 
pp.92, 1 12-13, and 275. 




50 



14 Six Quatrains on the Lotus Pond 



scmicursive script 
by Wang Chong (i494-i533) 
China, Ming dynasty; ca. 1528-29 
handscroll; ink on paper 

height 25.9 cm (lO-Vi*. in); length 702.5 cm (276Vtb in) 
80.2 



The poems in this scroll were both com- 
posed and transcribed by Wang Chong. As 
a result, the concepts of the poetry and 
the quality of the calligraphy are coherently 
related. In works of this type, in which the 
text and calligraphy are by the same person, 
the calligrapher's ideas, learning, training, 
and talent, as well as his cultivation and 
character, are more apparent than when the 
transcnption is of a text by another author. 
In Wang Chong's scroll, the leisurely atmo- 
sphere, the beauty of the Lotus Pond, and 
the mood of the calligrapher are vividly 
displayed. 

The eighty-line handscroll was written in 
"running cursive" script, on sparsely gold- 
flecked colored paper. The heavy and sturdy 
brush strokes vary in pressure and speed; 
the characters vary in size. The entire scroti 
is filled with brilhant, exuberant spirit, with 
unexpected changes of form and a feehng 
of expansivencss. The calligraphy is out- 
standing in its monumcntality and fresh- 
ness — especially with its lacquerlike rich 
black ink — as if written in a state of pure 
exhilaration. 

The scroll begins with the title of the 
poems: "Six Quatrains on the Lotus Pond." 
Renditions of the first, second, and fourth 
quatrains give the flavor of the contents: 

/ 

From picking lolus at the Lotus Pond the girls 
return, 

as evening clouds thin out aboi'e the Nine 

Dragon Mountain. 
Their bodies light, leaning on the oars, they 

return to shore, 
the breath of flowers, and their own fragrance, 

fiying with the waves. 

il 

Green mountains tike a folding screen, emerald 

waters winding, 
and ten thousand lotus Jiowers bloom in patterns. 
Boats of song waving the oars beside the weeping 

willows, 

ten miles of prosperity amid the embroideries. 
IV 

AH the families on this pond are selling lolus, 
the fifteen-year-old girl is good at counting 
the money. 

In front oj the bramble gate is a tapestry of 
flowers, 

the old man is napping in the breeze beneath a 
tall tree. 




detail showing Wang Chong's signature 



At the end of the sixth quatrain, Wang 
Chong added an inscription that reads: 

Yesterday I talked with Yuan Yuzhi about the 
beauty of the Lotus Pond. Yuzhi said he did not 
know, so I composed and presented six quatrains 
to him, in the hope that they may take him on 
an "armchair joiiniey." Wang Chong.^ 

Wang Chong, a poet and calligrapher, 
was a native of Suzhou. He studied with 
Cai Yu (ca. 1471-1541). Between 1510 and 
1531. Wang Chong failed the provincial 
examinations eight times, and yet he was 
highly regarded by Wen Zhcngming (1470- 
1559; see cat. no. 11) and his circle. Al- 
though Wang Chong died prematurely, to- 
gether with Zhu Yunming (i46i-!527) and 
Wen Zhengming he is considered one of 
the three great masters of calligraphy in the 
Ming dynasty. 

Although Wang Chong did not date the 
Freer scroll, it is clear from judging the 
style and biographical material that the 
poems were written around 1528-29. when 
the calligrapher was about thirty-five years 
old. Few other Chinese calhgraphers 
achieved such high quality at such a young 
age. This scroll is also probably the best 
extant calligraphic work by Wang Chong. 

I- Adapted from a translation by Jonathan Chaves. 

References: Fu and Nakata 1981-83, Ming Qing, vol, i, 
color plate j, pis. 7S-78. PP- 177-79; Fu 1977- pi- 57. 
pp 92, 113-13, and 275. 



50 




15 Couplet 



standard script 

by Fu Shan (1607-1684) 

China, Qing dynasty (1644-1911) 

pair ot hanging scrolls; ink on paper 

each: height 226 cm (89 in); width 45.5 cm (17% in) 

8o.2oa-b 



The brushwork of the calligraphy m this 
scroll is bold, heavy, sturdy, and muscular. 
Individual characters measure approxi- 
mately one or more square feet in size. The 
structure of the characters is monumental 
yet cohesive. Fu Shan has imbued the brush 
strokes with such inner tension and energy 
that the characters have an almost explosive 
quality. 

Fu Shan exhausted his energy as he 
transformed his inner tension through his 
movement of the soft-haired brush. The 
Freer scroll is one of the most monumental 
calligraphic works produced by any Chinese 
artist. 

The tradition of mounting couplets as 
paired hanging scrolls became popular in 
China after the sixteenth century. Before 
that time, couplets were pasted directly 
onto a door gate, or engraved onto the 
curved wooden panels that were hung on 
pillars on both sides of a gate to a Chinese 
building or on the symmetrical pillars inside 
the building. 

In Chinese calligraphy a couplet always 
combmes calligraphy and parallel composi- 
tion. Short and concise poetic or philosoph- 
ical texts and large-size calligraphy have 
enjoyed wide popularity since the sixteenth 
century. The format of a pair of hanging 
scrolls is unique among all the various 
Chinese calligraphic forms. 

A couplet is a unit of verse consisting of 
two successive lines, which usually rhyme 
and have the same meter. In Chinese poetry 
the art of couplet writing developed into a 
sophisticated and independent poetic for- 
mat. In the eight lines (four couplets) of 
"regulated verse," or liishi, the second and 
third couplets require a strict and perfect 
parallelism. The form not only observes the 
rules of tonal parallelism, but also requires 
a strict verbal parallelism. For example, a 
literal translation of the Freer couplet by Fu 
Shan is: 

Nature peace, meet heart naturally far; 
Body leisure, pleasant matter specially more, 

but the meaning of the couplet is: 

One's inner nature at peace, the meetin(> of mitici 

naturally reaches Jar; 
One's physical body at leisure, the pleasant 

matters specially gain more.^ 



Although this couplet contains six char- 
acters in each line, the most common Chi- 
nese couplets from the "regulated verse" 
form are in five- and seven-character meters. 
An independent couplet can be in almost 
any meter or in prose format, however, as 
long as it observes the tonal and verbal 
parallelism. The beauty of a Chinese couplet 
relies on the perfection of the geometrical 
balance of the parallel construction as well 
as on the depth or elegance of its meaning. 

The content of a couplet ranges from the 
poetic to the philosophical. The earliest, 
everlasting Chinese couplets used on the 
gates of people's houses are the New Year 
couplets, which usually contain auspicious 
lines for the coming year. Scholarly cou- 
plets, meant to be hung in a scholar's studio, 
probably were first used in the sixteenth 
century and became extremely popular in 
the nineteenth century. This calligraphic 
format still remains one of the most popular 
in China. 

Fu Shan (also known as Fu Qingzhu, 
Zhuyi daoren, and other names) was an 
eminent scholar, teacher, doctor, calligra- 
pher, and painter. In 1644, when he was 
thirty-eight years old, the Manchus con- 
quered China and established the Qing 
dynasty. Fu Shan, who refused to serve the 
alien rulers, wore traditional Daoist attire, 
and in his poems lamented the fall of his 
country. As a youth Fu Shan practiced the 
standard script of the Jin (265-420) and 
Tang (618-907) dynasties. Later, he studied 
the calligraphy of Yen Zhenqing (709- 
785). Finally, he created his own bold and 
distinct personal style, which is best repre- 
sented by his cursive script (see fig. 4). 

I. Adapted from a translation by Jonathan Chaves. 

Reference: Fu and Nakata 1981-83, Ming Qd/.i;, vol. 2, 
pi. 41, P- 140. 




Fig. 4. A more typical example of Fu Shan's 
cursive script. 



52 




Chinese Calligraphy 53 



1 6 Biography of Gao Cen 



standard script 

by Zhou Lianggong (i6i 2-1672) 
China, Qing dynasty; dated 165 1 
album leaf; ink on paper 

height 24.1 cm {gVi in); width 31.6 cm {iiVu in) 
80.116 




Landscape by Gao Cen; late Ming dynasty 



This small standard script by Zhou Liang- 
gong is written in a more archaic manner 
than is customary, with some elements 
derived from clerical script. Accented by 
occasional heavy diagonal strokes, the 
structure of individual characters is squarish 
with sharply articulated corners. Zhou 
Lianggong started the Biography of Gao Cen 
(mid-seventeenth century) with small and 
tightly composed characters, and gradually 
loosened his handling of the brush, using 
larger characters and more spacious col- 
umns. Toward the end of the biography, he 
again reduced the size of the characters. 

Zhou Lianggong wrote the characters 
slowly, introducing many unconventionally 
structured forms. Yet the calligraphy does 
not appear to be slick or vulgar; it is archa- 
istically clumsy and has a distinct personal- 
ity and style. This is not the kind of callig- 
raphy written in the orthodox style by a 
well-trained and talented calligrapher. It is, 
rather, the work of a learned scholar- 
individualist. 



The leaf is mounted on the hanging scroll 
above a landscape painting by the calligra- 
pher's contemporary, poet-painter Gao Cen. 
The text by Zhou Lianggong is a biography 
of Gao Cen and mentions his brother and 
teacher as well. 

Gao Cen . . . is the younger brother of Gao Fu, 
who is well known in the art world. . . . Fu 
and I have been friends for a very long time, but 
it was not until later that I became friends with 
Cen. He has a beard like a halberd and looks 
like a man who should wear an embroidered robe 
and ride on a noble steed. However, he takes 
pleasure from his belief in Buddhism and studies 
poetry. . . . 

As a youth he studied painting under Zhu 
Hanzhi, but in his late years he followed 
his own ideas. The paintings in this album were 
all painted at a temple in the mountains oj 
southern suburbs [of Nanking], amid the shade 
of pines and the gurgling streams. Excluding 
all things frivolous and noisy, they quietly drew 
the viewer into a state of tranquility. . . . 



I once stayed at the Sung-feng pavilion where I 
watched Master Xin and Cen engaged in a quiet 
discourse late at night. . . . Whenever Cen 
grasped something from their discussion, he has- 
tened to put it on paper. . . . Both Fu and Cen 
are oj unusually fine character. The place where 
the two sages live is green and cool, full of 
vegetation and creepers.'^ 

From this excerpt, it is clear that Zhou 
Lianggong's vivid description is not only a 
masterful piece of literature. It is a most 
important art historical document, because 
it provides firsthand information about 
Gao Cen. 

Zhou Lianggong, scholar-official, art 
patron, collector, and critic, was a native of 
Hcnan Province although he grew up and 
spent most of his life in Nanjing, the south- 
ern capital and the major painting center of 
the time. It was in Nanjing that Zhou 
Lianggong became acquainted with most of 
the leading artists, acquired their paintings, 
and wrote biographical essays for them. 
Zhou wrote seventy-seven biographies that 
were later assembled for a book entitled 
Duhualu (Record of Reading Paintings), 
which provides rich information on seven- 
teenth-century painting and painting criti- 
cism. 

Zhou Lianggong presumably transcribed 
all the biographical essays in his unique 
personal calligraphic style, then mounted 
them with the paintings. But, so far as 
is known, the Freer album leaf is the only 
known handwritten biography by Zhou 
among the seventy-seven essays in his 
Duhualu, which is extant today. 

Zhou Lianggong received the civil service 
jinshi degree in 1640 and served in various 
official posts. In his longest appointment, 
from 1647 to 1654, he served at Fujian, first 
as provincial judge and later as financial 
commissioner. Zhou dated this handwritten 
biography of Gao Cen in 1651; it must 
have been written, therefore, at Fujian, 
when Zhou was just forty years old, 
twenty-one years before his death. The 
accompanying painting by Gao Cen is not 
dated, but may well have been created 
before 165 1. It is, therefore, one of Gao 
Cen's relatively early works. 

I. Hongnam Kim, "Chou Liang-kung and His Tu-hua- 
lu" (Lives of painters) (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 
1985), vol. 2, pp. 142-43. 



54 



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Chinese Calligrapliy 55 



17 Thoughts about the Li Brothers 



cursive script 

by Huang Shen (1687-1768) 

China, Qing dynasty (1644-1911) 

hanging scroll; ink on paper 

height 138 cm (54y8 in); width 42 cm {16V2 in) 

80.13 



Although the calligrapher Huang Shen 
wrote in cursive script, he did not empha- 
size the speed with which he wrote by 
linking strokes or characters. On the other 
hand, Huang Shen was interested in the 
simplicity and abstract quality of the cursive 
script. He even purposely chose not to link 
those strokes that are usually connected. 
There are, therefore, more dots and short 
strokes and fewer loops in his calligraphy 
than are in ordinary cursive script. 

Huang Shen was also interested in shifting 
the axis from character to character. He 
alternated the heavy and light and the 
elongated and squat characters, and he 
varied the thick and thin strokes. Huang 
occasionally experimented even further, by 
including one or two characters in running 
script in the midst of his cursive calligraphy. 
Not only did he leave little space between 
characters in the same column, but he also 
maintained tight spacing between columns. 
The whole composition of the hangmg 
scroll is thus a pattern of rich variation in 
shapes and brushwork. Characters are 
woven together, with the individual charac- 
ters being less prominent and less impor- 
tant. The approach is more painterly than 
that used by most Chinese calligraphers. It 
is no surprise that Huang Shen was also a 
famous and accomplished painter. 

Huang Shen (also known as Huang 
Yingpiao) was recognized as one of the 
Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou during the 
eighteenth century. A native of Tingzhou in 
Fujian Province, he received instructions in 
painting figures, landscapes, birds, and 
flowers from Shangguan Zhou (1665-ca. 
1749). When Huang realized that there was 
no way to surpass the skilled perfection of 
his teacher, he constantly thought about 
a new style. He was finally inspired by the 
wild-cursive calligraphy of the Tang master 
Huaisu (725-785). Huang Shen not only 
practiced cursive calligraphy, but also 
successfully applied the cursive strokes to 
his paintings (see fig. 5). Even his teacher, 
Shangguan Zhou, was impressed by 
Huang's new style of painting. When 
Huang applied the principles of painting to 
his calligraphy, as he did in the Freer scroll, 
he achieved a new style. 



The content of the scroll is a quatrain 
composed by Huang Shen: 

Beside the city of flower and stone evening 

sadness rises; 
I remember you — two brothers — in the autumn 

of Chu Mountains. 
South of the Lake, north of the Lake, unlimited 

emotion; 

A thousand miles of shared thoughts, a single 

tower of moonlight. 
— Sent with Jeelings to Li Ziho and Li Ziming, 

Huang Shen of Min [Fujian].' 

The title of the quatrain, "Thoughts 
about the Li Brothers," suggests that this 
calligraphic work was possibly also dedi- 
cated to the Li brothers. The scroll is 
not dated, but judging from the calligraphic 
style, it is probably one of Huang's late 
works. The calligraphy was written as a 
medium-size hanging scroll, which suggests 
that it was not necessarily meant as a per- 
sonal message to be sent to the Li brothers. 
Even so, the large format indicates that 
Huang Shen regarded the scroll as an 
important work of art. 

I. Translated by Jonathan Chaves. 

Reference: Fu and Nakata 1981-83, Ming Qing, vol. 2, 
pi. 75, p. 149. 



I 

'a' 




Fig. 5. Man Gazing at Magnolias, dated 1722. 
Painting and calligraphy by Huang Shen. Freer 
Gallery of Art, 62.i4._ 



56 




Chinese Calligraphy 57 



1 8 In the Style of the Kong Zhou Stele 



clerical script 
by He Shaoji (i 799-1 873) 
China, Qing dynasty; ca. i860 
hanging scroll; ink on paper 

height 137.5 cm (54'/« in); width 46.2 cm (iSyu, in) 
82.7 




Fig. 6. Rubbing (date unknown) made trom the original stone ot the Kong Zhou stele (a.d. 164) 
in the Confucius Temple, Qufu, Shandong Province; ink on paper. 



In China, "model calhgraphy" traditionally 
can be divided into two main categories: 
bei, or "stele," and tie, or "copybook." Most 
of the works included in Chinese copy- 
books are reproductions of free-brush 
writings by the great masters. The Lanting 
preface (see cat. no. 11) is one of the most 
famous examples. 

The calligraphy engraved on the surfaces 
of stone was mainly written by anonymous 
calligraphers active from the Qin (221-207 
B.C.) to the Sui (581-618) dynasty. A num- 
ber of stelae by famous calligraphers of 
the Tang dynasty (618-907) were also 
included as models. In general, the writing 
style used in stelae was more formal and 
monumental than the calligraphy included 
in copybooks. Aside from their stylistic 
preference, followers of the stele school of 
calligraphy criticized those who emulated 
the models in copybooks by stressing 
that the surviving versions in copybooks 
hardly resembled the original writings 
because copyists introduced so many 
changes through the centuries. The inscrip- 
tions preserved on stone stelae, on the 
other hand, are just one step removed from 
the original. During the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries many Chinese calligra- 
phers, inspired by the study of epigraphy, 
turned to stone inscriptions for models and 
for inspiration. The scroll by He Shaoji is 
a typical example of a work modeled on 
a stone stele. 

The slightly squat structure, emphasized 
by horizontal strokes and occasional heavy 
accents with upward lifted tails, is charac- 
teristic of Chinese clerical script. Written on 
a relatively absorbent paper, all of the char- 
acters on this hanging scroll were written 
with the reversed brush-tip method. He 
Shaoji purposely formed some wet, round, 
and thick stroke heads to create an interest- 
ing contrast to the thin and dry strokes. 
He wrote all the strokes with his elbow and 
arm suspended; the energy in his body was 
concentrated m his fingers and transmitted 
to the brush tip. There are no mechanically 
parallel brush strokes; each stroke, each 
character, is a living unit. Although He did 
not sign his name or affix a name seal on 
the scroll, the distinctive style and quality 
clearly reveal his hand. 

He Shaoji (also known as He Zizhen and 
Yuansou) was a native of Daozhou in 
Hunan Province. In addition to being a 



famous poet-calligrapher, he was a scholar 
of the classics and an etymologist. He 
received instructions in the art ot calligraphy 
from his father. He Linghan (i 772-1 840), a 
high government official. He Shaoji's favor- 
ite models were the Tang masters Yen 
Zhenqing (709-785) and, to a lesser extent, 
Li Yung (673-747). He also studied widely 
the scripts on northern stelae, as well as seal 
and clerical scripts. 

In his sixties. He Shaoji devoted most of 
his energy to practicing clerical stelae of the 
Han dynasty (206 B.C. -a.d. 220). He 
would copy his favorite models a hundred 
times. He did not specify the stele on which 
he based the writing in this scroll, but 
from the text and style, it is clear that his 
model was the Kong Zhou stele (see fig. 6). 

Kong Zhou (a.d. 103-163) was the 
nineteenth generational descendant of Con- 
fucius and the father of the famous Kong 
Rong (a.d. 153-208). Kong Zhou had a 
lofty personality, and was a learned scholar 
and successful official. According to the 
text, after Kong Zhou died, "his students 
and employees went to the famous moun- 
tains together, picked this fine stone, and 
engraved this commemorative inscription to 
be shown to later generations." The original 
stele is still preserved at the Confucius 
temple at Qufu in Shandong Province. The 
elegant calligraphy of the stele was praised 



by many Qing scholar-calligraphers as 
one of the orthodox works of clerical script. 

The section freely imitated by He Shaoji 
was on the reverse side of the stele, which 
recorded all the names of Kong Zhou's 
followers and their native places. The wet 
ink blobs naturally produced by He's special 
brush method resemble the chips of aging 
stone. The six characters in running script at 
the end state: 

Occasionally written while looking at the 
bamboo under the rain, 

which indicates that He Shaoji wrote the 
scroll while at leisure and when he felt 
in the right mood. The calligraphy is not 
dated, but the text on the first seal indicates 
that He wrote the scroll after he had held 
official posts in charge of the provincial 
examinations in Fujian (1839), Guizhou 
(1844), and Guangdong (1849) provinces. In 
1852, He Shaoji served as commissioner of 
education in Sichuan and left that office in 
1855. Around i860 he was teaching in 
Shandong, where the Kong Zhou stele was 
located. The scroll may be dated, therefore, 
about i860, when He was in his early 
sixties. 

Reference: Fu and Nakata 1981-83, Ming Qing, vol. 2, 
pi. 95, pp. 156-57. 



58 



19 Frontispiece of a Poetry Scroll by Xu Wei 



seal script 

by Wu Tingyang (i 799-1 870) 
China, Qing dynasty; 1843 
handscroll; ink on paper 

height 31.7 cm (12V2 in); length 95.6 cm (37% in) 
80.3 



Four large characters forming this frontis- 
piece are written in a special type ot seal 
script. In writing the characters, Wu Ting- 
yang began the individual strokes with 
squarish heads and then ended some of the 
strokes with long, sharp tails. These charac- 
teristics, together with the calligrapher's 
introduction of squarish corners to some 
turning strokes, are quite different from 
regular seal script. An explanation for the 
unusual script can be found in the Tianfa 
Shencan stele (see fig. 7), dating from a.d. 
276, which was Wu Tingyang's model for 
the four characters. The calligraphy on the 
Tianfa Shencan stele dates from the transi- 
tional period between the fully evolved 
"clerical" and "standard" scripts. The new 
elements in the use of brush and in the 
composition of individual characters were 
introduced into the older "seal" script to 
achieve a unique calligraphic style. The 
historical importance of the script was 
recognized by scholars of the Qing dynasty 
(1644-1911); some late Qing antiquarian 
calligraphers, like Wu Tingyang, copied it. 

The four characters on the frontispiece of 
this Freer handscroll may be translated as 
"The writing of poetry by Qingteng." 
Qingteng is one of the names used by Xu 
Wei (1521-1593), the renowned eccentric 
writer, poet, calligrapher, and, in painting, 
the precursor of Shitao (1642-1707), Zhuda 
(1624-1705), and the Yangzhou Eccentrics. 
The main body of the Freer scroll consists 
often poems in cursive script, composed 
and written by Xu Wei (also known as Xu 
Qingteng); the four-character frontispiece 
by Wu Tingyang constitutes the title of the 
scroll. The three lines of smaller calligraphy 
to the left of the title provide the date and 
Wu's signature: 

In mid-sprinj^ of the twenty-third year of the 
Daoguang reign, Wu Tingyang viewed [this 
scroll by Xu Wei] at Hailing and wrote this. 

From Wu's comment, we know that he 
wrote the frontispiece in 1843 when he was 
forty-five years old, twenty-seven years 
before his death. Compared to most of 
Wu's extant works, which are from a later 
period, the title on the Freer scroll may 
be considered one of his early efforts. 

Wu Tingyang (also known as Wu Xizai 
and Wu Rangzhi) was a native of Yizheng, 




Jiangsu Province. He was the pupil of the 
famous scholar-calligrapher Bao Shichen 
(1775— 1855). Wu was a noted philologist, 
painter, master seal-carver, and calligrapher. 
In both flower painting and seal carving, 
Wu Tingyang influenced masters of the 
younger generation, such as Zhao Zhiqian 
(1829-1884) and Wu Changshuo (1844- 
1927). In his calligraphy, he excelled in all 
of the traditional script types. The later 
calligrapher and seal-carver Xu Sangeng 
(1806-1890), who specialized in copying 
the Tianfa Shencan stele, was greatly in- 
spired by Wu. 

Unlike the frontispiece by Cheng Nanyun 
(cat. no. 10), which provides a title for the 
painting scroll Seven Scholars Going through 
the Pass, this frontispiece by Wu Tingyang 
identifies instead the calligrapher and the 



content of the calligraphy handscroll. 
Usually, only an established calligrapher 
would dare to write a frontispiece — or be 
asked to write one — for a scroll by a master 
artist, particularly one by a master calligra- 
pher. 

Reference: Fu and Nakata 1981-83, Ming Qing, vol. 2, 
pi. 109, pp. 185-86. 



60 




Fig. 7. Detail from rubbing of the Tiatifa detail from Xu Wei's scroll 

Shencan stele. 



Cliiiiese Calligraphy 61 



19 Frontispiece of a Poetry Scroll by Xu Wei 



seal script 

by Wu Tingyang {1799-1870) 
China, Qing dynasty; 1843 
handscroU; ink on paper 

height 31.7 cm {12V2 in); length 95.6 cm (37% in) 
80.3 



Four large characters forming this frontis- 
piece arc written in a special type of seal 
script. In writing the characters, Wu Ting- 
yang began the mdividual strokes with 
squarish heads and then ended some of the 
strokes with long, sharp tails. These charac- 
teristics, together with the calligraphcr's 
introduction of squansh comers to some 
turning strokes, are quite different trom 
regular seal scnpt. An explanation for the 
unusual script can be found in the Tianfa 
Shcncan stele (see fig. 7). dating from A.D. 
276, which was Wu Tingyang's model tor 
the four characters. The calHgraphy on the 
Tianfa Shcncan stele dates from the transi- 
tional pcnod between the fully evolved 
"clerical" and "standard" scripts. The new 
elements in the use of brush and in the 
composition of individual characters were 
introduced into the older "seal" script to 
achieve a unique calligraphic style. The 
historical importance of the script was 
recognized by scholars of the Qing dynasty 
(1644-191 r); some late Qing antiquarian 
calligraphers, like Wu Tingyang. copied it. 

The four characters on the frontispiece of 
this Freer handscroll may be translated as 
"The writing of poetry by Qingteng." 
Qingteng is one of the names used by Xu 
Wei (1521-1593), the renowned eccentric 
writer, poet, calligrapher, and, m painting, 
the precursor of Shitao (1642-1707), Zhuda 
(1624-1705), and the Yangzhou Eccentrics. 
The main body of the Freer scroll consists 
often poems in cursive script, composed 
and written by Xu Wei (also known as Xu 
Qingteng); the four-character frontispiece 
by Wu Tingyang constitutes the title of the 
scroll. The three lines of smaller calligraphy 
to the left of the title provide the date and 
Wu's signature: 

In mid-spring of the twenty-third year of the 
Daogttang reign, Wu Tingyang viewed [this 
scroll by Xu Wei] at Hailing and wrote this. 

From Wu's comment, wc know that he 
wrote the frontispiece in 1843 when he was 
forty-five years old, twenty-seven years 
before his death. Compared to most of 
Wu's extant works, which are from a later 
period, the title on the Freer scroll may 
be considered one of his early efforts. 

Wu Tingyang (also known as Wu Xizai 
and Wu Rangzhi) was a native of Yizheng. 





Jiangsu Province. He was the pupil of the 
famous scholar-calhgrapher Bao Shichen 
(1775-1855). Wu was a noted philologist, 
painter, master seal-carver, and calligrapher. 
In both flower painting and seal carving, 
Wu Tingyang influenced masters of the 
younger generation, such as Zhao Zhiqian 
(1829-1884) and Wu Changshuo (1844- 
1927). In his calligraphy, he excelled in all 
ot the traditional script types. The later 
calligrapher and seal-carver Xu Sangeng 
(1806-1890), who specialized in copying 
the Tianfa Shencan stele, was greatly in- 
spired by Wu. 

Unlike the frontispiece by Cheng Nanyun 
(cat. no. 10), which provides a title for the 
painting scroll Seven Scholars Going through 
the Pass, this frontispiece by Wu Tingyang 
idendfies instead the calligrapher and the 



content of the calligraphy handscroll. 
Usually, only an established calligrapher 
would dare to write a frontispiece — or be 
asked to write one — for a scroll by a master 
artist, particularly one by a master caUigra- 
phcr. 



Reference: Fu and Naka 
pi. 109, pp. 185-86. 



1981-83, Ming Qing, vol. . 



60 




Chinese CalHgraphy 6l 



Japanese Calligraphy 



In Japan as in China, calligraphy is appreciated as a fine art and a universal 
cultural value. Writing is considered to reveal not only the writer's skill and 
creativity, but also to embody and communicate his inner character. Although 
writing in Japan began from the Chinese writing system, the requirements of 
the unrelated Japanese language resulted in the invention of phonetic scripts 
having no counterparts in China. The cursive form of Japanese phonetic 
script (J; karia) became an artistic script of the highest order. Calligraphy in 
cursive katia (J; hiragana) evolved its own forms, techniques, and aesthetics 
and became one of the great national calligraphic traditions. 

In the fifth century a.d., when the Chinese writing system began to be 
adopted in Japan, the major Chinese scripts all had been developed, and the 
basic tools and materials of calligraphy — brush, ink, paper, and silk — were 
already in widespread use. At first the Japanese concentrated on learning 
to read and write the characters and on studying the Chinese language with 
its new and complex vocabulary. During the period from the sixth to the 
eighth century, the use of Chinese characters became established in Japan, 
having been encouraged by the introduction and spread of Buddhism and the 
needs of a newly centralized government. By the eighth century, however, 
the Japanese had begun to alter their usage of Chinese characters to accom- 
modate the need to write literature in their own language. Some Chinese 
characters, unaltered in structure, were used to denote sound only, rather 
than to signify their meanings in Chinese. The eighth-century anthology of 
Japanese poems, the Man'ydshii, was written in Chinese standard script, with 
some characters to be read for sound and others for meaning. 

This cumbersome system was modified between the eighth and tenth 
centuries as the Japanese abbreviated Chinese standard script (J: kaisho; C: 
kaishu) and cursive script (J: sosho; C: caoshu) to form more convenient and 
readily distinguishable phonetic symbols (katia), each representing one syl- 
lable of the Japanese language. Katakana, the phonetic script evolved from 
standard script, was used for practical purposes such as marking inflections in 
texts or transliterating words from foreign languages; its straight, uncon- 
nected lines did not suit it for artistic expression. Hiragana, the cursive pho- 
netic syllabary, had evolved by the tenth century into a convenient and inher- 
ently graceful script preferred for letters, for the composition of Japanese 
poetry, and for the most private, nonofficial functions. 

While Chinese continued to be the language of religious texts (see cat. 
no. 20) and official communication, the aristocratic culture of the late Heian 
period (794-1 185), which was centered in the capital at Kyoto (then called 
Heian-kyo), turned away from China and suspended diplomatic contacts 
from 894 until the late twelfth century. During this period, Japanese styles 
evolving in all the arts reached a classic expression. 

By the early eleventh century, cursive kana {hiragana) had become an 



62 



artistic script completely Japanese in character and expressive qualities; it was 
distinguished from Chinese calligraphy by the term wayo (Japanese manner). 
Cursive kana was particularly suited to writing the short Japanese waka (or 
tanka) poem of thirty-one syllables composed in lines ot five or seven syl- 
lables. 

The irregular line lengths and fluid relationships among the words in 
waka poetry allowed the calligrapher considerable compositional freedom. 
Indeed, one notable Japanese habit, already established in kaiia calligraphy of 
the Heian period, is the free disposition of lines of irregular length on the 
page. The writing descends from different levels, as if cascading over the 
surface of the paper, rather than beginning always at the top of a column. 

Within the lines, variation of the forms of characters was provided by 
selecting the symbol from several that designated the same sound. In all, 
only about fifty symbols would be needed to represent the syllables of the 
Japanese language, but in katia calligraphy the number of symbols is much 
greater. Moreover, an occasional Chinese character could be selected for a 
text written predominantly in kaua, thus providing a visual accent and break 
in rhythmic flow of the passage. When used in this way, the Chinese character 
would be read according to its Japanese pronunciation rather than by the 
Japanese transliteration of the Chinese sound. 

The tradition of writing on dyed or decorated paper was well established 
in the courtly culture of Heian, and is most brilliantly exemplified by the 
exhibited page from the "Poems of Ki no Tsurayuki" (cat. no. 22) belonging 
to the dispersed volumes called Ishiyama-gire. Written on dyed and joined 
paper that forms an asymmetrical collage design decorated with scattered 
patterns in silver and gold, the page represents one of the most exquisite 
surviving examples of Japanese taste during the twelfth century. 

Japanese poetry, calligraphy, and decorative taste are inextricably linked 
in the works of calligraphy in the Japanese manner. Usually, the calligraphy 
forms a superimposed and integral entity that is independent of the underly- 
ing decoration. At times, however, calligraphy merges with the picture and 
the two elements are fully interdependent so that one may not be understood 
without the other. The unity of picture, calligraphy, and poetry is nowhere 
more fully realized than in the poem-picture (J: uta-e), an invention of the 
Heian period that was continued in later times and translated to the medium 
of lacquer art. An outstanding example of a poem-picture is represented by 
the lacquer inkstone case (cat. no. 31). Such portable cases for writing equip- 
ment began to be used in Japan by the end of the Heian period and reflected 
the national preference for writing many informal and spontaneous brief 
letters or poems. 

From the Heian period onward, two major currents of calligraphy, each 
with their own models, training, and critical standards, were practiced in 



Japanese Calligraphy 63 



Japan. Chinese calligraphy continued to be respected, used exclusively for 
specific kinds of texts, and almost exclusively preferred by some groups of 
calligraphers. Japanese calligraphy continued to evolve, especially among the 
aristocracy. Neither mode, however, developed completely in isolation. 
When written in alternation or combination with Japanese kana, for example, 
Chinese characters were usually written in a harmonious semicursive style 
with simplified structures and compositions. Many of the most original 
calligraphers of Japanese kana benefited from study of both Japanese and 
Chinese models. 

For centuries, lineages of calligraphers transmitting models and technical 
knowledge provided the basis for training Japanese calligraphers. Once 
trained, however, a calligrapher could evolve a personal style that would 
revitalize the tradition and inspire new followers. Emperor Fushimi (1265- 
13 17; see cat. no. 25) was admired for his calligraphy, which established a 
new synthesis between the style of his training in the Seson-ji school and his 
study of the classic Heian-period model of Fujiwara no Yukinari (also known 
as Kozei, 972-1027). 

A particularly creative renaissance of the Japanese arts, including the 
Japanese mode of calligraphy, occurred in the early seventeenth century in the 
work of three master calligraphers known as the Three Brushes of the Kan'ei 
Era (1624-44) [J: Kan'ei Sampitsu]. Each in his own way responded to his 
study of past masterpieces to synthesize an original personal style. Both their 
calligraphic models and the poetic texts that they preferred came from the 
Heian period, by this time regarded as a golden age ot Japanese culture. 
In the exhibited works by Konoe Nobutada (i 565-1614), Shokado Shojo 
(i 584-1639), and Hon'ami Koetsu (i 558-1637), who comprised the Three 
Brushes of the Kan'ei Era, a new rhythmic and formal vitality enlivens the 
transcriptions of Japanese poems. Following the Japanese tradition handed 
down from the Heian period, the papers selected for their work are decorated, 
but a new style of bold and often innovative designs manifests a change in 
taste from the ephemeral delicacy of Heian decoration to a style that harmo- 
nizes with their more energetic interpretation of the Japanese mode of callig- 
raphy. Especially in Koetsu's long handscroll (cat. no. 28), the counterpoint 
of the script, with its varied density and tonality and the bold silver and gold 
printed motifs in the ground decoration, produce a dynamic interaction of 
calligraphy and decoration that is unparalleled within the Chinese calligraphic 
traditions. 

Calligraphy in Chinese continued to be respected and to have an impor- 
tant place in Japan, at times becoming the preferred mode for certain types of 
texts. Sutras, the sacred texts of Buddhism, were always written in Chinese, 
following regular rules of composition and style (see cat. no. 20). Gold and 
silver inks are almost exclusively restricted to the writing of sutras. Also 




Fig. 8. Detail from handscroll, cat. no. 
25. Calligraphy attributed to Emperor 
Fushimi, late thirteenth century. The two 
poems are by Fujiwara no Shunzei from 

the Shin kohiii wakailni; ink on paper limited to rcligious contcxts is the use of Indian, rather than Chinese, scripts. 

decorated with gold and silver. One example of Calligraphy derived from Indian sources is the kenmn, an 

altar pendant for a Buddhist temple (see cat. no. 21), which represents deities 
by the character for the first sound of their names. 

Interruptions in Japanese cultural and diplomatic contacts with China 
provided an incomplete access to Chinese calligraphic styles. Moreover, an 
evolving Japanese preference for the works of certain Chinese masters distin- 
guishes Japanese calligraphy in the Chinese manner as a separate stylistic 
lineage having its own national characteristics. Through the end of the Heian 
period, the calligraphic models for Japanese calligraphers were those writings 
or copies of writings by earlier masters that had reached Japan by the end of 
the ninth century. The work of Chinese calligraphers of the Song (960-1279) 
and Yuan (1279— 1368) periods gradually became familiar to Japanese writers 
in the Chinese manner, after regular contact with China was resumed during 
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; Ming (i 368-1644) calligraphy was 
introduced to Japan in the seventeenth century. 

An important class of calligraphy in Chinese is known in Japanese as 
bokuseki (literally, "ink traces"), or writings by Zen (C: Chan) Buddhist 
monks. Because calligraphy is a direct, personal act, the traces remaining 



Japanese Calligraphy 65 



from the brush of a great spiritual leader became in themselves an embodi- 
ment of his learning and character. Particularly in the Zen sect, which flour- 
ished in Japan from the twelfth century onward, when contact with China 
was resumed, the emphasis on direct transmission of its teachings from 
master to disciple endowed the writings of great masters with a special im- 
portance. Large-character inscriptions written for meditation became an 
important category of bokuseki. Included in this exhibition is one fme example 
(cat. no. 32) ofbokuseki by Kogetsu Sogan (1574-1643), a prominent monk 
of the Kyoto Zen temple, Daitoku-ji. His writing in large characters revives 
a link to the work of early Zen masters that he might have studied through 
the great collections belonging to his monastery. 

The history of the Zen sect is linked inextricably with Chinese literature 
and art. Many Chinese monks were members of Zen communities in Japan, 
especially in the founding generations of each of the three major sects. Their 
work, often unknown in China, is so thoroughly assimilated into the Japanese 
cultural identity that some of the calligraphic works of early Chinese Chan 
monks are designated in Japan as protected cultural properties. One example 
of calligraphy by a Chinese monk of the Obaku (C: Huangbo) Zen sect is 
included in the exhibition (cat. no. 33). An immigrant to Japan, Muan Xing- 
tao (J: Mokuan Shoto, 1611-1684) had a crucial role in the transmission of 
late Ming-dynasty calligraphic styles to Japan. Because of his residence in 
Japan, his work is regarded as integral to the history of calligraphy in Japan 
rather than in China. 

In the Edo period (161 5-1868), Chinese studies were encouraged by the 
policies of the Tokugawa shoguns. Within the context of scholarly study of 
Chinese history, literature, and philosophy reaching into a broader segment 
of Japanese society than in previous periods, the practice of Chinese calligra- 
phy flourished and expanded. A new interest in archaic Chinese scripts such 
as clerical script (J: reisho; C: lishu) led to its use in Japan after a long period 
of neglect. 

A group of painters also were inspired by the ideals of Chinese scholars 
(J: bunjin; C: wenren) to paint in a manner that was closely inspired by Chinese 
techniques. In calligraphy, too, they practiced Chinese styles, and adopted 
the Chinese custom of inscribing paintings to commemorate the occasions 
for which they were painted (see cat. no. 35). Like their Chinese counterparts, 
Japanese bunjin enjoyed gathering to share their mutual interests, and would 
often add their inscriptions to paintings by their colleagues. 

In the millennium since the evolution of a distinct Japanese mode of 
writing, the Japanese and Chinese modes have been studied and practiced by 
Japanese calligraphers. Their rich cultural heritage, which has not excluded 
new artistic ideas from outside their own borders, has produced unique and 
important calligraphic works of great beauty. This aesthetic achievement can 



be appreciated in the most informal writing in the purely Japanese mode, 
such as the exhibited "sleeve-paper" inscribed with two poems (cat. no. 24), 
in the powerful large-character inscriptions written in Chinese by Zen monks, 
or in the remarkable synthesis from both traditions that was achieved by 
Nobutada (see cat. no. 27) and Koetsu (see cat. nos. 28 and 29). 

The calligraphic works selected for this exhibition, although few in 
number, present a representative range of works dating from the twelfth to 
the nineteenth century. Beginning with a Buddhist sutra and a leaf from one 
of the greatest secular calligraphic projects surviving from the Heian period, 
the exhibition includes works by later calligraphers in both the Japanese and 
Chinese modes. The calligraphers represent a cross-section of the Japanese 
cultural elite; Emperor Fushimi (see cat. no. 25), aristocrats (see cat. nos. 22- 
24 and 27), Buddhist monks (see cat. nos. 20, 24, 26, 30, and 33), and learned 
laymen (see cat. nos. 34 and 35). 

The calligraphers are the carriers of a major artistic tradition that has 
continually renewed itself, even in modern times. Calligraphy remains a part 
of the education of every Japanese student, and a knowledge of its principles 
now extends broadly into all classes of society. Their preparation to respect 
and appreciate excellent calligraphy has ensured the continued vitality of a 
rich and unique cultural legacy. 

References: Shimizu and Rosenfield 1984; Shimizu 1983; Fontein and Hickman 1970. 



Japanese Calligraphy 67 



20 Buddhist Sutra: Kan-Fu^en-hosatsu-gyoho-kyo 



standard script 

Japan, Heian period; late 12th century 
handscroll; gold and silver on indigo-dyed paper 
height 25.4 cm (10 in); length 449.6 cm (176% in) 
68.60 




detail showing frontispiece illustration 



Sutras, the scriptures transmitting the 
teachmgs ot the Buddhist religion, are 
intrinsically sacred. For the faithful, the 
writing or recitation of the sutra texts and 
the donation of materials and financial 
support tor their production are acts of 
religious merit that bring protection in the 
present world and benefit for future exis- 
tence. 

Soon after its introduction to Japan from 
China and Korea in the sixth century a.d.. 
Buddhism gained official support trom 
the newly centralized government. Scripto- 
ria were established for the copying of 
sutras, which required quantities of precious 
materials: paper, ink, knobs, wrappers, and 
fine storage boxes. The copying of sutras in 
the Japanese imperial or temple scriptoria 
was done by professional scribes who wrote 
Chinese standard script (J: kaisho; C: 
kaishu) in a formal, regulated manner that 
adheres faithfully to Chinese models, 
preserving the sanctity and efficacy of the 
text. Whether written by a monastic scribe 
or by a layperson as an act of piety, the text 
is transcribed verbatim, and individual 
variation of the writing style is held to a 
minimum. 

During the Heian period (794-1 185), 
under the patronage of aristocratic families, 
the quest for salvation through meritorious 
deeds encouraged the production of many 
sets of luxuriously decorated sutras, and the 
artistic quality of Buddhist sutras reached a 
high point that has never been surpassed. 
This handscroll belongs to a class ot sutras 
written in gold or silver ink on paper 
dyed indigo or purple. Sutras of this type, 
often having illustrated frontispieces, were 
produced in Japan from the eighth century, 
following Chinese models. Thousands of 
scrolls written in gold ink on dark-blue 
paper are preserved in Japan from the great 
projects sponsored by emperors and aristo- 
crats of the Heian period. 

The Kan-Fugen-bosatsu-gydbd-kyo (Sutra of 
Meditation on the Bodhisattva Fugen) is 
the final sutra appended to the twenty- 
eight-chapter Lotus Sutra (J: Hokke-kyo or 
Myoho-renge-kyo; S: Saddharma-pundarika- 
sutra), which is customarily preceded by the 
Murydgi-kyd. Vivid imagery and a promise 
of salvation made the Lotus Sutra, together 
with its opening and closing sutras, one 
of the greatest and most influential texts in 
East Asian Buddhism. 



This scroll matches an eight-scroll set of 
the Lotus Sutra that is kept in the Toshodai- 
ji, a Buddhist monastery in Nara.' Follow- 
ing established convention, the text is 
written in columns ot seventeen characters 
each. The disciplined regularity of the gold 
characters written in Chinese standard 
script is given emphasis by the silver lines 
demarcating the margins and columns. The 
frontispiece illustration (J: mikaeshi-e) 
depicts the bodhisattva Fugen (S: Samanta- 
bhadra, the bodhisattva of Universal Virtue) 
riding his elephant as he appears to a monk 
who is reading a sutra trom a handscroll. 
Rendered in lines and washes ot gold and 
silver inks, the deity appears as a miraculous 
vision swiftly descending on clouds into 
the temporal world to fulfill his promise as 
protector of the Lotus Sutra: 

In the latter five hundred years of the corrupt and 
evil age, whoever receives and keeps this sutra I 



will guard and protect . . . . Wlierever such a 
one sits, pondering this sutra, I will at once 
again mount the six-tusked white elephant king 
and show myself to him. Thereupon, he who 
receives and keeps, reads and recites the Law- 
Flower Sutra [Lotus Sutra] on seeing me will 
greatly rejoice and renew his zealr 

1. Yoshiaki Shimizu (1981), unpublished curatorial 
records for acc. no. 68.60, Office of the Registrar, 
Freer Gallery of Art. 

2. Lotm Sutra, chapter XXVIII. The Threefold Lotus 
Sutra, translated by Bunno Kato, Yoshiro Tamura, and 
Kojiro Miyasaka, with revisions by W. E. Soothill, 
Wilhelm Schitfer, and Pier P. del Campana (New York 
and Tokyo: Weathcrhill/Kosei, 1975), p. 340. 

Published: Hempel 1983, pi. 114, p. 122; Shimada, 
Akiyama, and Yamane 1979-81, vol. 2: Emakimono, pi. 
107 and pp. 158-59; TGA Handbook 1976, p. 93; FGA 
U: Japan 1974, pi. 1 and p. 153; Shimada 1969, vol. 2, 
pt. I, pi. 32 and vol. 2, pt. 2, pi. 46. 



68 



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7s^ 




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detail 



Japanese Calligraphy 6g 



21 Altar Pendant (Keman) 



Sanskrit, Siddha script 

Japan, Kamakura period (i 185-1333) 

bronze with gold and silver 

height 44.5 cm {17V2 in); width 31.4 cm {izVs m) 
74-13 



The keman is a pendant ornament that is 
suspended above the altar of a Buddhist 
temple. Made of lasting materials such as 
wood, painted leather, or bronze embel- 
lished with gold and silver, the floral scroll 
motifs and tied cords of the keman derive 
from the garlands of fresh flowers custom- 
arily offered to deities in India, where 
Buddhism originated. On this keman, exe- 
cuted in relief against openwork lotus 
scrolls, four individual phonetic characters 
in the graceful Indian script known as 
Siddha appear in gold, enclosed by silver 
circles surmounting pedestals in the form ot 
open lotuses. 

In Esoteric Buddhism (J: mikkyo), charac- 
ters written in the ancient Indian Sanskrit 
language recalled the original tcachmgs 
of the Buddha and were considered to be 
imbued with spiritual power. In Buddhist 
texts, which are written m the Chinese 
language throughout East Asia, the orthog- 
raphy of Sanskrit occasionally is used, 
especially for transliterating the syllables of 
magical incantations (S: dharant) or the 
mystical syllables or phrases (S: mantra) that 
were recited for spiritual union with a deity. 

On sacred objects or paintings, a single 
written Sanskrit character may represent a 
Buddhist deity. The symbolic representation 
of the deity as a written character rather 
than in pictorial form is known in Japanese 
by the term shilji (S: bija), literally meaning 
"seed character." Implicit in this term is 
the concept of the manifestation of each 
deity from an essential force, or "seed." 

Each of the four Indian characters on this 
keman surmounts a lotus pedestal, parallel- 
ing the conventional iconographic represen- 
tation of a deity seated or standing on a 
lotus dais. On the illustrated side of the 
pendant, the syllable "bhai" appears twice 
as the symbol for a deity whose Sanskrit 
name begins with that syllable. On the back 
of the pendant the characters "ba" and 
"kya" represent two other deities.' Implicit 
in this mode of symbolic representation of 
the deity is the belief that the sound of the 
recited name has the power to invoke the 
deity. 



I. Three deities associated with protection may be 
represented by the syllable "bhai": Bhaisajya-guru (J: 
Yakushi Nyorai), the Buddha of Healing; Bhaisajya- 
raja-bodhisattva (J: Yakuo bosatsu); and Vaisravana (J: 
Bishamonten). "Ba" represents Varuna (J: Suiten). 
"Kya" may represent Ekaadsamukha (J: Juichimen 
Kannon) or Asvaghosa (J: Memyo bosatsu). See Sawa 
Ryuken, Bulsuzd zuteii (Tokyo, 1962), pp. 281-84. 

Published: Murray 1979, pp. 53-54. 



70 




Japanese CalJigrapliy 71 



22 Page from the Ishiyama-gire: Poems ofKi no Tsurayuki 



cursive hiragaiia script 

traditionally attributed to Fujiwara no Sadanobu (1088-1156) 
Japan, Heian period; early 12th century 

panel-mounted album page; ink, silver, and gold on assembled dyed paper 

height 20.3 cm (8 in); width 16. i cm {6Vu, in) 

69.4 



Written with a long, slender brush, calligra- 
phy in the flowing hiragaiia script that was 
developed during the Heian period (794- 
118 5) for phonetic representation of the 
Japanese language reached a high aesthetic 
standard that was admired and emulated by 
later writers. The refined taste of the aris- 
tocratic patrons of the arts is expressed 
in the beauty of their writing and in the 
richly decorated papers produced to re- 
ceive it. 

This page is one leaf from a volume of 
poems that once belonged to a luxuriously 
decorated thirty-nine-volume transcription 
of the Sanjurokuiiiii-shu (Anthology of the 
Thirty-Six Poets), a collection compiled by 
Fujiwara no Kinto (996-1041). With the 
exception of two volumes sold in 1929, the 
set remains in the Nishi Hongan-ji, a Kyoto 
Buddhist temple. The separated sheets of 
the two volumes now dispersed are known 
as the Ishiyama-gire (Ishiyama Fragments), a 
name that comes from an earlier location 
of the temple in Osaka. 

Although a few of the volumes in the set 
are later replacements, the surviving vol- 
umes from the original project executed in 
about 1 1 12 are among the finest and most 
elaborate calligraphic works surviving from 
the Heian period. The project employed 
twenty accomplished calligraphers, each of 
whom wrote one or more volumes. 

No effort was spared in preparing papers 
of outstanding quality decorated with a 
variety of techniques, including dyeing; 
printing with color and with mica powder; 
painting with silver, gold, and occasional 
color; ink marbling; applying silver or gold 
leaf; and assembling papers in a collage. 
Although some of the decorative techniques 
reflect the prestige of Chinese papers im- 
ported for calligraphy, others appear to 
represent a novel approach to the use of fine 
materials. Many craftsmen and painters 
must have been involved at great expense in 
the production of papers for the project. In 
the surviving volumes and fragments of this 
manuscript, the consummate skill of Japa- 
nese paper craftsmen and decorators of the 
late Heian period is most beautifully pre- 
served. 

The page in the Freer Gallery comes from 
one of the two dispersed volumes of the 
Ishiyama-gire: part two of the Tsiirayiiki-shu , 
the selected poems of Ki no Tsurayuki 



(872?-ca. 946). It is a rare example of one of 
the most complex types of ornamented 
paper in the anthology. Another page was 
once joined to this one along the righthand 
edge, forming a unified design when the 
volume was open. Colored papers of purple, 
yellow, and white are cut or torn and joined 
along their edges to form a collage {tstigi- 
gami), then decorated with scattered patterns 
painted in silver and embellished with 
flakes of gold and silver leaf The delicate 
silver motifs of insects, grasses, and leaves 
are typical of late Heian-pcriod decorative 
arts, appearing also in other media such as 
lacquer. Strewn in an apparently random 
manner, they suggest the transient phenom- 
ena of the natural world. 

The slender lines of poetry are written 
over this evanescent surface. They, too, are 
composed irregularly, with lines of different 
lengths beginning and ending at different 
levels. The two poems, numbers 603 and 
604 in the anthology,' are in the thirty-one- 
syllable Japanese form called waka (or 
taiika). The first poem reads: 



Kitio made 
Aimishi hito no 
Kyo naki wa 
Yama no kumo to zo 
Tanabiki ni kerii 



One whom I met 
Until yesterday 
Is gone today, 
Swept away 
Like mountain 
clouds 



The second poem continues the theme of 
mourning for a lost friend. 

The calligraphy of this volume is tradi- 
tionally attributed to Fujiwara no Sadanobu, 
who was the fifth-generation head of the 
Scson-ji lineage of calligraphers that had its 
roots in the work of Fujiwara no Yukinari 
(also known as Kozei, 972-1027). The 
Seson-ji lineage was the dominant carrier of 
the elegant style of Heian court calligraphy 
for more than five centuries. - The skill of 
a master calligrapher is apparent in the 
expressive control of the swiftly moving 
brush that results in vivid contrasts between 
the accents of ink at the beginning of each 
verse and the graceful, attenuated phrases 
that follow. 



1. Kyusojin 1966, p. 152. 

2. Shimizu and Roscnfield 19X4. pp. 47-4><; Koniatsu 
1970, vol. 1, pp. I X 1-230. 



References: Egami Yasushi, unpublished colloquy. 
Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, The 
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., January 7, 
1982; Shimizu and Rosenfield 1984, pp. 54-57; Kyuso- 
jin 1966. 

Published: Henipel 1983, pi. 131, p. 141; Shiniada, 
Akiyama, and Yamane 1979-81, vol. 2; Eiiuikiniono, pi. 
43 and p. 142; fGA Iljaptin 1974, pi. 67 and p. 173. 



72 




Japanese Calligraphy 73 



23 Portrait of the Poet Saigu no Nyogo 



from the Agedatami version of "Thirty-Six Immortal Poets" 

cursive Japanese hiragana and semicursive Chinese scripts 

calHgraphy traditionally attributed to Fnjiwara no Tameie (i 198— 1275) 

painting traditionally attributed to Fujiwara no Nobuzane (ii76?-i265?) 

Japan, Kamakura period; 13 th century 

segment of a handscroll mounted as a panel; ink and color on paper 

height 27.9 cm (11 in); width 51. i cm (2oV'8 in) 

50.24 



This imaginary portrait of the poet Saigu 
no Nyogo (929-985), inscribed with a brief 
biography and a verse of her poetry, is one 
of three segments in the Freer Gallery of 
Art from the Agedatami sequence ot 
"Thirty-Six Immortal Poets" (J; Sanjurok- 
kaseii).^ Originally in handscroll form, 
the Agedatami sequence, named for the 
raised mat on which each poet sits, is one of 
the two earliest surviving works depicting 
the poets themselves in association with 
their poems. Beginning in the literary and 
artistic circles ot the court, the genre known 
as kasen-e (pictures of Immortal Poets) was 
continued for centuries, gradually reaching 
a wider audience and eventually becoming a 
subject for popular prints during the nine- 
teenth century. - 

The text to the right of the portrait 
begins with a biography, written in Chinese 
characters (katiji), the mode of writing that 
continued to be used in Japan for official 
or historical texts even after the develop- 
ment of phonetic katia scripts. The three 
lines of Chinese characters are followed by a 
thirty-one-syllable waka poem written in 
two lines of cursive hiragana: 



Koto no ne ni 

Mine no matsukaze 

Kayourashi 

Izure no wo yori 
Shirabesome^ 



With the sound of the 

koto 
The wind in the 

pines 
Of the moutitain 

peak 
Seems to ask 
With what note shall 

I begin? 



The strongly modulated calligraphy is one 
of three individual writers' styles that can 
be distinguished in the sixteen surviving 
segments of the Agedatami scroll. In com- 
parison to the others, the writing in this 
segment preserves some of the attenuated, 
flowing quality that is also seen in the page 
from the Tsurayuki-shu (cat. no. 22). 

The Imperial Princess Saigu no Nyogo is 
one of several women included among the 
Thirty-Six Immortal Poets, a reminder 
of the important literary achievements of 
women aristocrats during the Heian period 
(794-1185). In the painting, one of the 



finest of all surviving poet-portraits, she is 
depicted reclining on a raised mat {ageda- 
tami). Her voluminous silk robes are worn 
in twelve layers, carefully selected for color 
and pattern, and her hair is worn long and 
unbound, cascading in another layer over 
her robes. On the panel behind her, a 
painting depicts the rounded hills of the 
Japanese landscape. In the foreground, her 
inkstone, brushes, and water-dropper are 
held in a lacquered case (J: suzurihako) that 
is decorated in silver and gold. Just visible 
beneath her billowing right sleeve are what 
appear to be sheets of decorated paper of 
outstanding quality, precious materials 
available only to writers of the highest 
status. In this small portrait that is really an 
imaginary re-creation of the image of a 
poet-princess, the luxurious world of the 
Heian court poet is faithfully preserved. 

1. The other two segments. Freer Gallery ot Art acc. 
nos. 50.23 and 50.25, respectively, depict Onakatomi 
no Yonmoto (885-957) and Minamoto no Kintada (d. 
948). 

2. Maribeth Graybill, "The Immortal Poets" in Shmiizu 
and Rosenfield 1984, pp. 96-97. 

3. Shui wakashu 451 in Watanabe Daizaburo and Watan- 
abe Fumio, compilers, Kokka taikan, vol. i: kashiihu, 

p. 63. 

References: Maribeth Graybill in Shimizu and Rosen- 
field 1984, chapter 4, pp. 96-1 1 1; Maribeth Graybill, 
"Kasen-e: An Investigation mto the Origms of the Tra- 
dition of Poet Pictures in Japan" (Ph.D. diss., Univer- 
sity of Michigan, 1983). 

Published: Shimada, Akiyama, and Yamane 1979-81, 
vol. 2: Einakimorio, pi. 39 and pp. 140-42; Mori Torn, 
ed., Sanjiirokkasen-e , vol. 19 of Nihon emakimono zenshii 
(Tokyo: Kadokawa shoten, 1979), pi. 4; FGA Handbook 
1976, p. 99; FGA II: Japan 1974, pi. 10 and p. 154; Shi- 
mada 1969, vol. 2, pt. I, pi. 46. 



74 




Japanese Calligraphy 75 



24 Poetry Offering to the Kasuga Shrine (Kasuga kaishi) 



cursive Japanese hiragaua and semicursive Chinese scripts 

by Jitsuin (act. ca. mid-i3th century) 

Japan, Kamakura period; ca. 1243 

hanging scroll; ink on paper 

height 29.1 cm {iiVh in); width 43.1 cm (17 in) 

1984-35 



Furusato no 
Mukashi no hatia wo 

Machimitsutsi4 
Yuki kawashita ni 
munw no shita ka to 



I am waiting to see 
The flowers of long 
ago 

In my old home. 
Beneath the plum, 
Has the snow 
transformed? 



Miyoshino ya 
Sakisou hana no 

Shira kumo ni 
Kakurete kasumi 

Haru no yo no tsuki^ 



Like lovely Yoshino- 
The flowers begin to 

bloom 
In a white cloud 
The spring night's 

moon 
Is concealed in mist 



Paper carried in the clothing so that it 
would always be ready for writing was 
called kaishi ("sleeve-paper" or "bosom- 
paper"). The aristocratic culture that had 
reached its fullest expression in the Heian 
period (794-1185) demanded that poetry be 
written frequently. The kaishi inscribed on 
these occasions were usually not intention- 
ally preserved but were reused for other 
writing. In later times, however, the original 
writing on kaishi came to be appreciated by 
practitioners of tea, who had them mounted 
on scrolls for display in the tearoom. 

The group of calligraphy referred to as 
the Kasuga kaishi was presented by various 
members of the Fujiwara family to their 
tutelary deities at the Kasuga Shrine in 
Nara. In about 1244 the sheets were put to 
use for transcribing the text of the eighth- 
century poetry anthology Man'yoshii, which 
was written on the back of the poem- 
offerings. Later, the calligraphy of the poetic 
offerings came again to be valued, and the 
sheets were separated from the books 
and remounted. 

This sheet of paper shows the typically 
damaged condition of the Kasuga kaishi 
sheets, which resulted from the attempt to 
remove as much as possible of the Man'yo- 
shii text from the back of the page before 
mounting it for display. Faint traces of the 
Chinese regular script characters on the 
back can be seen. 

In elegant cursive hiragana script of a 
conservative style with direct antecedents in 
the Heian period are inscribed two thirty- 
one-syllable waka poems, entitled, respec- 
tively, "Beneath a Plum Tree" and "Spring 
Moon": 



Despite the damaged condition of the paper, 
the classic forms and gentle grace of the 
calligraphy can be appreciated. This poem- 
sheet attests to the high level of accompHsh- 
ment achieved in calligraphy by many 
members of the Fujiwara family. The 
calligrapher Jitsuin can be identified as a 
priest of the Mii-dera (Onjo-ji)."* 

1. Readings for the Japanese poems were provided by 
Professor Yoshiaki Shimizu of Princeton University. 

2. The scenery of Yoshino in southern Yamato Province 
is famous for its beauty in the spring, when the hills 
are covered with cherry blossoms. 

3. Toin Kinsada, Soiipi hunmyaku, vol. I, in Kuroita 
Katsumi, ed., Kokushi laikei (Tokyo: Yoshikawa ko- 
bunkan, 1977), vol. 43, pp. 147 and 149. 

References: Shimizu and Rosenfield 1984, p. 64; Ro- 
senfield, Cranston, and Cranston 1973, pp. 135-37. 



76 




Japanese Calligraphy 77 



25 Transcription of Poems from the Shin kokin wakashu 
(New Anthology of Ancient and Modern Japanese Verse) 



cursive Japanese hiragaiia, semicursivc and cursive Chinese scripts 

attributed to Emperor Fushimi (1265-1317) 

Japan, Kamakura period; late 13th century 

handscroll; ink on paper decorated with gold and silver 

height 29.8 cm (ii^A in); length 188 cm (74 in) 

76.7 



On paper richly decorated in silver and 
gold, selected poems from the imperial an- 
thology Shin kokin wakashu are inscribed. 
The semicursive and cursive Chinese char- 
acters and Japanese hiragana phonetic script 
are written fluently but are arranged spa- 
ciously, with relatively few connected 
characters. In comparison to other examples 
of calligraphy in hiragana, the relatively 
large and widely spaced cursive script of 
this calligraphy reveals a distinctive personal 
style. 

The beauty of the writing is enhanced by 
the landscape design of clouds and sand- 
banks executed in gold and silver pigments 
and gold leaf cut to different shapes and 
applied to the surface of the paper. Birds 
and butterflies appear to hover in the land- 
scape. The Japanese appreciation for the 
aesthetics of calligraphy written on paper 
decorated with an independent design was 
already well established among court writ- 
ers of the Heian period (794-1185), and was 
continued and periodically revived. The 
landscape design in shimmering gold and 
silver, once brighter than it appears today, 
creates the illusion of dissolving the flat 
surface plane of the paper so that the written 
poems appear to float in space. 

In the illustrated segments from the 
opening passages of the scroll are two waka 
verses of thirty-one syllables each by cour- 
tier Fujiwara no Ariie (11 55-1216) and 
Priest Saigyo (11 18-1206). The first verse is 
described in the headnotes as having been 
written at the Kasuga poetry competition, 
on the subject of the wind in the pines. 
Listening to the sound of the wind in the 
garden pines, the author wonders whether 
his sleeves are wet from tears or from rain.' 
The second poem expresses the lonely 
isolation of a priest who has renounced the 
world and longs for a companion.- Other 
poems transcribed in this selection are 
by Fujiwara no Shunzei (11 14-1204), Fuji- 
wara no Tcika (also known as Sadaie, 1162- 
1241), and Fujiwara no Yoshitsunc (1169- 
1241).' 

The calligraphy is unsigned, but is 
ascribed to Emperor Fushimi, v/hose name 
appears on a red paper label for the scroll 
that was written, according to an accom- 



panying certificate, by Emperor Gonara 
(1496-1557). Stylistically, the writing 
corresponds closely to the transcription of 
poems from the Gosen wakashCt imperial 
anthology (compiled ca. 951), dated 1294 
when Fushimi was a young man of twenty- 
nine.'* His writing at that time follows 
faithfully the style of Fujiwara no Yukinari 
(also known as Kozei, 972-1027), whose 
writing in sogana (cursive hiragana), with its 
graceful turns and loops, became a classic 
model for later calligraphers. 

In time, however, Emperor Fushimi 
evolved his own calligraphic style that was 
admired by his contemporaries and by later 
writers. His study of the work of Chinese 
calligraphers of the Song (960-1279) and 
Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties influenced his 
writing. In comparison to earlier sogana 
writings, in the work of Emperor Fushimi 
the sequences of characters are less con- 
nected, the forms more balanced, and the 
brushwork more vigorous. This scroll, 
with its luxurious decoration and beautiful 
writing, is an outstanding work by one of 
Japan's most accomplished imperial calligra- 
phers. 

1. Shin kokin wakashil XVII: 1636 in NKBT, vol. 28 
(1958), p. 335- 

2. Ibid.: 1657, p. 339. 

3. Shunzei: ibid. X: 932-33, p. 207. Teika: ibid. X: 934, 
p. 207. Yoshitsiine: ibid. X: 936. 

4. Yoshiaki Shiniizu (1979), unpublished curatorial rec- 
ords for acc. no. 76.7, pp. 13-15, Office of the Regis- 
trar, Freer Gallery of Art. Emperor Fushimi's 
transcription of the Gosen wakashu is published in Juyo 
hiinkazai (Tokyo: Mainichi shimbunsha, 1976), vol. 18, 
calligraphy I, color plate 8. A fragment known as Chi- 
kugo-gire is illustrated in Komatsu 1970, vol. I, p. 621. 

References: Shimizu and Rosenfield 1984, pp. 49-50 
and 66-67; Yoshiaki Shimizu (1979), unpublished cura- 
torial records for acc. no. 76.7, Office of the Registrar, 
Freer Gallery of Art. 

Published: Yoshiaki Shimizu 111 Murray 1979, p. 56; 
Komatsu 1970, vol. 2, pis. 237 (l) and (2), p. 71. 



78 



25 Transcription of Poems from the Shin kokiii wakaslnl 
(New Anthology of Ancient and Modern Japanese Verse) 



cursive Japanese Imagatia. semicursive and cursive Chir 
attributed to Emperor Fushimi (1265-13 17) 
Japan, Kamakura period; late 13th century 
handscroll; ink on paper decorated with gold and silvc 
height 29.8 cm {iiVa in); length 188 cm (74 in) 
76.7 




On paper richly decorated in silver and 
gold, selected poems from the ipiperial an- 
thology Shin kokin imkashil are inscribed. 
The semicursive and cursive Chinese char- 
acters and Japanese hiragana phonetic script 
arc written fluently but are arranged spa- 
ciously, with relatively few connected 
characters. In comparison to other examples 
of calligraphy in Itiragana, the relatively 
large and widely spaced cursive scnpt of 
this calligraphy reveals a distmctive personal 
style. 

The beauty of the writing is enhanced by 
the landscape design of clouds and sand- 
banks executed in gold and silver pigments 
and gold leaf cut to different shapes and 
applied to the surface of the paper. Birds 
and butterflies appear to hover in the land- 
scape. The Japanese appreciation for the 
aesthetics of calligraphy written on paper 
decorated with an independent design was 
already well established among court writ- 
ers of the Hcian period (794-1185), and was 
continued and periodically revived. The 
landscape design in shimmering gold and 
silver, once brighter than it appears today, 
creates the illusion of dissolving the flat 
surface plane of the paper so that the written 
poems appear to float in space. 

In the illustrated segments from the 
opening passages of the scroll are two waka 
verses of thirty-one syllables each by cour- 
tier Fujiwara no Anie (1155-1216) and 
Priest Saigyo (i 1 18-1206). The first verse is 
described in the headnotcs as having been 
written at the Kasuga poetry competition, 
on the subject of the wind in the pines. 
Listening to the sound of the wind in the 
garden pines, the author wonders whether 
his sleeves are wet from tears or from rain.' 
The second poem expresses the lonely 
isolation of a priest who has renounced the 
world and longs for a companion." Other 
poems transcribed in this selection are 
by Fujiwara no Shunzei (11 14-1204), Fuji- 
wara no Teika (also known as Sadaie, 1 162- 
1241), and Fujiwara no Yoshitsune (1169- 
1241).' 

The calhgraphy is unsigned, but is 
ascribed to Emperor Fushimi, whose name 
appears on a red paper label for the scroll 
that was written, according to an accom- 



panying certificate, by Emperor Gonara 
(1496-1557). Stylistically, the writing 
corresponds closely to the transcription of 
poems from the Goseii ivakashi't imperial 
anthology (compiled ca. 951), dated 1294 
when Fushimi was a young man of twenty- 
nine.^ His writing at that time follows 
faithfully the style of Fujiwara no Yukinari 
(also known as Kozei, 972-1027), whose 
writing in sogana (cursive hiragana), with its 
graceful turns and loops, became a classic 
model for later calligraphers. 

In time, however, Emperor Fushimi 
evolved his own calligraphic style that was 
admired by his contemporaries and by later 
writers. His study of the work of Chinese 
calligraphers of the Song (960-1279) and 
Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties influenced his 
writing. In comparison to earlier sogana 
writings, in the work of Emperor Fushimi 
the sequences of characters arc less con- 
nected, the forms more balanced, and the 
brushwork more vigorous. This scroll, 
with its luxurious decoration and beautiful 
writing, is an outstanding work by one of 
Japan's most accomplished imperial calligra- 
phers. 

1. Sbm kokiti wakaslm XVll: 1636 in NKBT. vol. 28 

(■9s8), p- as 

2. (bid.: 1657, p. 339. 

3. Shunzci. ibid. X: 932-33. p. 207. Teika; ibid. X: 93+. 



p. 207. Yoshit 



: ibid, X: 936. 



4. Yoshiaki Shimizu {1979}. unpublished curatorial rec- 
ords for acc- no 76,7. pp. 13-15, Office of the Regis- 
trar. Freer Gallery of Art Emperor Fushinns 
transcnption of ihc Goscn wakashii is published in Juyo 
f-imfcoem (Tokyo: Mainichi shimbunsha, 1976), vol. 18, 
calligraphy 1. color plate 8, A fragment known as Chi- 
kugo-gire is illustrated in Komatsu 1970. vol, 1. p. 621. 

References: Shimizu and Rosenfield 1984. pp. 49-50 
and 66-67; Yoshiaki Shimizu {1979}, unpublished cura- 
torial records for acc, no. 76.7, Office of the Registrar. 
Freer Gallery of Art. 

Published: Yoshiaki Shimizu in Murray 1979, p. 56; 
Komatsu 1970, vol. 2, pis. 237 (i) and (2}, p. 71. 






Japanese Calligraphy 79 



26 Transcription of the Eiga taigai (Essentials of Poetry) by Fujiwara no Teika 



cursive Japanese hiragana and semicursive Chinese scripts 
by Shokado Shojo (i 584-1639) 
Japan, Edo period; ca. 1638-39 

handscroll; ink on paper decorated with gold and silver 
height 27.2 cm (ioy4 in); length 516.6 cm (203'/2 in) 
81. 1 



The smooth, burnished paper {]: gampishi) 
of this long handscroll is decorated with 
irregularly placed bands of silver and gold 
suggesting clouds or mist. Although less 
elaborate than other illustrated examples of 
decorated Japanese paper, the ornamentation 
of this scroll reflects the Japanese tradition 
of writing poetry on beautiful papers that 
was transmitted from the Heian period 
(794-1185). 

The calligraphy alternates between pas- 
sages written in semicursive Chinese char- 
acters (J: kanji) and passages written in 
cursive phonetic Japanese hiragam script. 
The prose passages are written in kamhiin, a 
form of Chinese adapted to Japanese read- 
ing, whereas the poems selected to illustrate 
the critical essay are suitably rendered in 
phonetic Japanese. The broad brush strokes 
and regular spacing of the larger Chinese 
characters contrast aesthetically to the long, 
connected sequences of Japanese hiragana. 

Eiga taigai (Essentials of Poetry),' prob- 
ably composed in about 1209, is a guide to 
the composition of Japanese poetry written 
by Fujiwara no Teika (also known as Sadaie, 
1162-1241), whose critical writings and 
selection of outstanding verses became the 
standard by which all later Japanese poems 
were composed and judged. In the brief 
preface, Teika admonishes the poet first to 
consider originahty of the emotions, then to 
study the great poems of earlier times. 
Among the works he advises studying are 
three imperial anthologies: Kokin imkashu 
(a.d. 905), Gosen wakashil (ca. a.d. 951), 
and Shili wakashu (ca. 1005-8). In addition, 
he mentions the Anthology of the Thirty- 
Six Poets {Saujurokimin-shu) [see cat. no. 
22]; the tenth-century Japanese poetic 
romance Ise monogatari (Tales of Ise); and 
the Chinese poetry of Bojuyi (772-846). 

In the final passage of the preface, Teika 
concludes: 

There are no teachers of Japanese poetry. But 
they who take the old poems as their teachers, 
steep their minds in the old style, and learn their 
words from the masters of former time — who of 
them will fail to write poetry?-^ 

In accordance with Teika's views on the 
primacy of the poems themselves as teach- 
ers, the preface is followed by 103 selected 
poems from various anthologies. 



Like the texts he has chosen to transcribe, 
Shokado's calligraphy in this scroll, espe- 
cially the cursive hiragana passages, is 
profoundly linked to models of the Heian 
period. Although trained in the mode of the 
Shoren-in school of calligraphy that was 
influential beginning in the fourteenth 
century, he turned in his later years toward 
the study of earlier calligraphy from the 
Heian period, when Japanese hiragana script 
had reached its classic form. His later kana 
calligraphy is stylistically close to Heian 
models such as the celebrated eleventh- 
century Koya-gire manuscript of the Kokin 
wakashu that is associated with the master 
calligrapher Fujiwara no Yukinari (also 
known as Kozei, 972-1027). 

Shokadd's calligraphy in the illustrated 
scroll corresponds stylistically to writings 
of his late years. His colophon at the end 
(far left) of the scroll indicates that he wrote 
it at the request of Hayashi Razan (1583- 
1657), a Confucian scholar who served as 
tutor to the Tokugawa shoguns. A letter to 
Shokado recorded in Kazan's collected 
works thanks him for sending paintings and 
calligraphy, including this scroll. The letter 
dated in the fourth month of 1639 dates this 
scroll within the last year of Shokado's life, 
when he was living in retirement at a hut 
called "Shokado."^ 

1. The Japanese text of the Eiga taigai, with annotations, 
is pubhshed in NKBT, vol. 65 (1961), pp. 114-23. 

2. Ryusaku Tsunoda, Wilham Theodore de Bary, and 
Donald Keene, Sources of Japanese Tradition (New York 
and London: Columbia University Press, 1958), p. 180. 

3. Yoshiaki Shimizu (1981), unpublished curatorial rec- 
ords for acc. no. 81. i, Office of the Registrar, Freer 
Gallery of Art. 





> ^ 



dct.i 



80 




Japanese Calligraphy 



26 Transcription of the Eiga taigai (Essentials of Poetry) by Fujiwara no Teika 



cursive Japanese hiragana and semicursive Chinese scripts 
by Shokado Shojo (1584-1639) 
Japan, Edo period; ca. 1638-39 

handscroll; ink on paper decorated with gold and silver 
height 27.2 cm {ioy4 in); length 516.6 cm {201V2 in) 



The smooth, burnished paper (J: gampishi) 
of this long handscroll is decorated with 
irregularly placed bands of silver and gold 
suggesting clouds or mist. Although less 
elaborate than other illustrated examples of 
decorated Japanese paper, the ornamentation 
of this scroll reflects the Japanese tradition 
of writing poetry on beautiful papers that 
was transmitted from the Heian period 
{794-1185). 

The calligraphy alternates between pas- 
sages written in semicursive Chinese char- 
acters (J: kanji) and passages written in 
cursive phonetic Japanese hiragatia script. 
The prose passages are written in katnbun, a 
form of Chinese adapted to Japanese read- 
ing, whereas the poems selected to illustrate 
the critical essay arc suitably rendered in 
phonetic Japanese. The broad brush strokes 
and regular spacing of the larger Chinese 
characters contrast aesthetically to the long, 
connected sequences of Japanese hiragatia. 

Eiga taigai {Essentials of Poetry),' prob- 
ably composed in about 1209, is a guide to 
the composition of Japanese poetry written 
by Fujiwara no Teika {also known as Sadaie, 
1162-1241), whose critical writings and 
selection of outstanding verses became the 
standard by which all later Japanese poems 
were composed and judged. In the brief 
preface, Teika admonishes the poet first to 
consider originality of the emotions, then to 
study the great poems of earlier times. 
Among the works he advises studying are 
three imperial anthologies: Kokin wakashu 
(a.d. 905), GoiCM wakashu {ca. a.d. 951), 
and Shui wakashu {ca. 1005-8). In addition, 
he mentions the Anthology of the Thirty- 
Six Poets {Sanjurokuiiin-shu) [see cat. no. 
22); the tenth-century Japanese poetic 
romance he motwgalari {Tales of Ise); and 
the Chinese poetry of Bojuyi (772-846). 

In the final passage of the preface, Teika 
concludes: 

There are no teachers of Japanese poetry. But 
they who take the old poems as their teachers, 
steep their minds in the old style, and learn their 
words from the masters of former time — who of 
them will fail to write poetry?- 

In accordance with Teika 's views on the 
primacy of the poems themselves as teach- 
ers, the preface is followed by 103 selected 
poems from various anthologies. 



Like the texts he has chosen to transcribe, 
Shokado's calligraphy in this scroll, espe- 
cially the cursive hiragana passages, is 
profoundly linked to models of the Heian 
period. Although trained in the mode of the 
Shorcn-in school of calligraphy that was 
influential beginning in the fourteenth 
century, he turned in his later years toward 
the study of earlier calligraphy from the 
Heian period, when Japanese hiragana script 
had reached its classic form. His later ^.'ijrjii 
calligraphy is stylistically close to Heian 
models such as the celebrated eleventh- 
century Kdya-gire manuscript of the Kokin 
wakashu that is associated with the master 
calligraphcr Fujiwara no Yukinan {also 
known as Kozei, 972-1027). 

Shokado's caDigraphy in the illustrated 
scroll corresponds stylistically to writings 
of his late years. His colophon at the end 
(far left) of the scroll indicates that he wrote 
it at the request of Hayashi Razan {1583- 
1657), a Confucian scholar who served as 
tutor to the Tokugawa shoguns. A letter to 
Shokadd recorded in Razan's collected 
works thanks him for sending paintings and 
calligraphy, including this scroll. The letter 
dated in the fourth month of 1639 dates this 
scroll within the last year of Shokado's life, 
when he was living in retirement at a hut 
called "Shokado."' 



1. The Japanese text of the Eiga taigai, \ 
is published in NKBT, vol. 65 {1961), pp. 114-23. 

2. Ryusaku Tsunoda, William Theodore dc Bary. and 
Donald Kccnc, Sources of Japanese Tradition (New York 
and London: Columbia University Press, 1958), p. 180. 

J. Yoshiaki Shimizu (1981), unpublished curaiorial rec- 
ords for acc, no. 81. i, Office of the Registrar, Freer 
Gallery of Art. 




Japanese Calligraphy 8i 



27 Screen Mounted with Six Poem-sheets: Verses from the Wakan roeishu 



cursive Japanese hiragana and semicursive Chinese scripts 
by Konoe Nobutada (1565-1614) 
Japan, Momoyama period (i 573-161 5) 

four-panel screen; ink on paper decorated with gold and silver 

screen: height 69.5 cm {ijY^ in); width 46.2 cm ( 18^/4 in) 

poem-sheets approximately: height 21 cm (8'/4 in); width 17.9 cm (7'/i6 in) 

81.16 




Small rectangular sheets of decorated paper 
(shikishi) and narrow strips {tanzakH) were 
often used by Japanese calligraphers for 
transcribing individual waka poems. For 
preservation and enjoyment, these lovely 
small works were mounted on hanging 
scrolls, in albums, or on folding paper 
screens of various dimensions. 

On this small folding screen, six shikishi 
from a former set of ten have been pasted. 
A label on the back of the screen notes that 
it was used when tea was served. A low 
screen placed on the tatami matted floor 
where guests and host would sit has the 
dual function of defining an intimate space 
within a larger room and of making that 
space an aesthetically pleasing environment, 
suitable to the occasion. 

Three of the poem-sheets (the first, 
fourth, and sixth, reading from the right) 
have calligraphy in semicursive Chinese 
characters, distinguishable by their broad 
brushwork and regular proportions and 
spacing. The other three sheets are written 
with cursive Japanese hiragana script — 
composed in relatively large scale — with an 
unusually wide spacing between lines. The 
poems are selected from a Japanese anthol- 
ogy of alternating Chinese and Japanese 
poems, the Wakan roeishU (Anthology 
of Chinese and Japanese Poems for Recita- 
tion), compiled by Fujiwara no Kinto (966- 
1041). The alternating Chinese and Japanese 
poems in the anthology provide a text that 



displays the proficiency of the calligrapher 
in writing the contrasting Japanese phonetic 
script and Chinese characters in close 
juxtaposition. 

The identity of the calligrapher, Konoe 
Nobutada, is indicated by two labels 
attached to the screen. Born to a family of 
Kyoto aristocrats, a branch family of the 
powerful Fujiwara who dominated political 
and cultural life in the Heian period (794- 
1185), he was trained in the conservative 
calligraphic style of the Shoren-in school. In 
his later work, he achieved a dynamic and 
expressive style that distinguished him, 
together with Shokado (i 584-1639; see cat. 
no. 26) and Koetsu (i 558-1637; see cat. 
nos. 28 and 29), as one of the Three Brushes 
of the Kan'ei Era (1624-44) [J: Kan'ei 
Sampitsu]. 

Like Shokado, Nobutada studied the 
work of a great Japanese master calligrapher, 
assimilating aspects of the master's style to 
create a distinctive personal synthesis. 
The dynamic style of Nobutada's later work 
shows the influence of his close study of 
the work of Fujiwara no Teika (also known 
as Sadaie, 1 162-1241). From Teika's style 
Nobutada adopted the habit of holding the 
brush tip diagonally rather than in a cen- 
tered position, the former being a technique 
that increases the contrasts between thick 
and thin brush strokes and emphasizes the 
changes of direction. Pronounced variations 
between spacious and narrowly compressed 



compositions of individual characters is 
evident in both the Chinese and Japanese 
passages. The characteristics of Nobutada's 
mature style, evident in the six poems on 
this screen, were referred to in later times as 
the "Sanmyaku-in" mode, after Nobutada's 
posthumous Buddhist title. 

References: Shimizu and Rosenfield 1984, pp. 204-5 
and 212-15; Komatsu 1981; Yoshiaki Shimizu (1981), 
unpublished curatorial records for acc. no. 81.16, 
Office of the Registrar, Freer Gallery of Art; Komatsu 
1970, vol. I, pp. 46-78. 




poem-slicct troiii screen; Chinese verse 



82 




poem-sheet from screen; Japanese verse 



Japanese Calligrapliy 83 



28 Poems from the Kokin wakashu (Anthology of Ancient and Modem Japanese Verse) 



mixed scripts: cursive Japanese hiragana with cursive Chinese scripts 

calHgraphy by Hon'ami Koetsu (1558-1637) 

printed designs by Tawaraya Sotatsu (act. ca. 1 600-1 640) 

Japan, late Momoyama to early Edo period; early 17th century 

handscroll; ink, gold, and silver on paper 

height 33.0 cm (13 in); length 994.2 cm (43o'yi6 in) 

03-309 



When purchased by Charles Lang Freer in 
1903, the sheets of paper now attached in 
sequence to form a handscroll were 
mounted separately on a set of four sliding 
doors (J: fusuma)^ A painting on the paper 
surfaces of the opposite sides of the doors 
depicts a large pond populated with man- 
darin ducks. In 1955, after recognizing that 
the sheets of calligraphy formed a continu- 
ous sequence. Dr. Harold P. Stern, then 
curator of Japanese art at the Freer Gallery, 
had them removed from the door panels 
and restored to form a handscroll. 

Although there are a few slight losses at 
the edges of some sheets, the scroll pre- 
serves a consecutive sequence of poems 
selected from the imperial anthology Kokin 
wakashu (Anthology of Ancient and Modern 
Japanese Verse, compiled a.d. 905). The 
twenty-six poems are numbers 619 through 
644 from Book XIII (Love Poems 3) of the 
anthology.- Since the first sheet of paper 
in the present scroll is very short, with only 
two lines of writing, it seems probable that 
the original scroll would have included the 



three missing poems from the beginning of 
Book XIII. It is also possible that some 
additional poems may have followed num- 
ber 644. 

This long handscroll more than thirty- 
five feet in length is an important example 
of collaborative works with calligraphy 
by Hon'ami Koetsu and underpaintings or 
printed designs in gold and silver by 
Tawaraya Sotatsu. When executed in the 
handscroll format, the composite visual 
rhythms of underdesigns and cursive callig- 
raphy that are revealed by the gradual 
unrolling of the scroll are remarkably effec- 
tive. In no other works of Japanese calligra- 
phy is the dynamic interaction of calligra- 
phy and decoration so fully realized. 

The designs on the mica-coated paper 
were printed by a special technique appar- 
ently devised for the papers designed by 
Sotatsu for calligraphy. Carved woodblocks 
were liberally linked with dilute gold or 
silver pigment. Rather than registering the 
block along the edge of the paper, the 
printer varied the position of the block with 



each successive printing, overlapping some 
motifs to simulate the effect of a painting. 
Liberal application of the gold and silver 
pigment resulted in a slightly irregular 
pooling on the surface of the paper as the 
block and paper were separated, an effect 
that simulates the tonal variation of color 
applied with a brush. 

The pictorial designs of the scroll begin 
with a passage of dense grasses arranged in 
clusters along the lower edge of the scroll, 
followed by a long passage of vine leaves 
trailing from above. In the middle segment, 
a bamboo grove printed in silver fills the 
entire width of the scroll. Cranes in silver 
and gold soar upward toward the right 
as the point of view is directed toward the 
sky. The scroll concludes with a sequence of 
peonies seen from a close standpoint. 

Over this luminous design with its dra- 
matic and constantly changing patterns, the 
poems are written. Using cursive kana 
script in combination with selected cursive 
Chinese characters, Koetsu freely varied the 
scale and composition of characters, the 




length of the lines, and their arrangement 
on the page. Rather than paralleling the 
compositional arrangements ot the decora- 
tive motifs, the calligraphy establishes an 
independent cadence as the lines rise and 
fall, swell, and diminish to the faintest 
whisper of a smgle, slender syllable written 
at the lowermost edge of the page. Always 
conscious of the aesthetic character of the 
printed decoration, the calligrapher has 
responded with originality and imagination. 
In the passage of trailing ivy vines, a se- 
quence of characters representing five 
syllables, "au koto no," is written in bold, 
highly abbreviated cursive script that de- 
scends from among the foliage as if it were 
a curling tendril of ivy. The sense of dy- 
namic interaction between the writing and 
decoration is nowhere more apparent 
than in the passage where cranes soar up- 
ward toward the right in opposition to the 
descending lines of calligraphy progressing 
toward the left. 

For his achievements in calligraphy, 
Koetsu is counted among the Three Brushes 



of the Kan'ei Era (1624-44) [J: Kan'ei 
Sampitsu], together with Shokado (see cat. 
no. 26) and Konoe Nobutada (sec cat. no. 
27). A master of many arts who was born to 
a family of sword connoisseurs, Koetsu had 
a deep appreciation ot craft techniques, 
which is evident in the original designs of 
papers he preferred for his calligraphy. 
From 161 5, Koetsu lived with a group of 
artists and craftsmen at Takagamine outside 
Kyoto. 

Koctsu's writing, characterized by pro- 
nounced variation in the width of line and 
of characters, strong internal rhythm, 
and expressive control of ink tone, reveals 
his close study ot both Chinese and Japanese 
calligraphic traditions. His calligraphy 
ranks as one of the supreme achievements in 
the history of Japanese calligraphy. 

1. Freer Gallery of Art acc. nos. 03. 138-03. 141. 

2. For Japanese texts of the poems, see Kokin wakashu 
in NKBT, vol. 8 (1958), pp. 225-30. For English trans- 
lations, see McCullough 1985, pp. 139-44; Laurel Ras- 
plica Rodd with Mary Catherine Hcnkenius, Kokiiishii: 



A Collection of Poems Ancienl and Modern (Princeton, 
N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1984), pp. 226-34. 

Published: Shimada, Akiyama. and Yamane 1979-81, 
vol. 5: Rimpa, pis. 15 and 16 and pp. 125-26; FGA 
Handbook 1976, p. 118; FGA II: Japan 1974, pi. 37 and 
pp. 164-65; Shimada 1969, vol. i, pt. i, p. 43 and pt. 
2, pp. 60-61. 



overleaf: detail, cat. no. 28 




Japanese Calligraphy 85 



28 Poems from the Kokin wakasim (Anthology of Ancient and Modem Japanese Verse) 

mixed scripts; cursive Japanese hiragnna with cursive Chinese scripts 

calhgraphy by Hon'ami Koctsu (1558-1637) 

printed designs by Tawaraya Sotatsu (act. ca. 1600-1640) 

japan, late Momoyama to early Edo period; early 17th century 

handscroll; ink, gold, and silver on paper 

height 33.0 cm (13 in); length 994.2 cm (43o'yi6 in) 

03-309 



When purchased by Charles Lang Freer in 
1903, the sheets of paper now attached in 
sequence to form a handscroll were 
mounted separately on a set ot tour shding 
doors {}: fusuma).' A painting on the paper 
surfaces of the opposite sides of the doors 
depicts a large pond populated with man- 
darin ducks. In 1955. after recognizing that 
the sheets of calligraphy formed a continu- 
ous sequence. Dr. Harold P. Stern, then 
curator of Japanese art at the Freer Gallery, 
had them removed from the door panels 
and restored to form a handscroll. 

Although there are a few slight losses at 
the edges of some sheets, the scroll pre- 
serves a consecutive sequence of poems 
selected from the imperial anthology Kokin 
wakashii (Anthology of Ancient and Modern 
Japanese Verse, compiled a.d. 905). The 
twenty-six poems are numbers 619 through 
644 from Book XIII (Love Poems 3) of the 
anthology.^ Since the first sheet of paper 
in the present scroll is very short, with only 
two lines of writing, it seems probable that 
the original scroll would have included the 



three missing poems from the beginning of 
Book XIII. It is also possible that some 
additional poems may have followed num- 
ber 644. 

This long handscroll more than thirty- 
five feet in length is an important example 
of collaborative works with calligraphy 
by Hon'ami Koctsu and undcrpaintings or 
printed designs in gold and silver by 
Tawaraya Sotatsu. When executed in the 
handscroll format, the composite visual 
rhythms of underdesigns and cursive callig- 
raphy that are revealed by the gradual 
unrolling of the scroll are remarkably effec- 
tive. In no other works of Japanese calligra- 
phy is the dynamic interaction of calligra- 
phy and decoration so fully realized. 

The designs on the mica-coated paper 
were printed by a special technique appar- 
ently devised for the papers designed by 
Sotatsu for calligraphy. Carved woodblocks 
were liberally linked with dilute gold or 
silver pigment. Rather than registering the 
block along the edge of the paper, the 
printer varied the position of the block with 



each successive printing, overlapping some 
motifs to simulate the effect of a painting. 
Liberal application of the gold and silver 
pigment resulted in a slightly irregular 
pooling on the surface of the paper as the 
block and paper were separated, an effect 
that simulates the tonal variation of color 
applied with a brush. 

The pictorial designs of the scroll begin 
with a passage of dense grasses arranged in 
clusters along the lower edge of the scroll, 
followed by a long passage of vine leaves 
trailing from above. In the middle segment, 
a bamboo grove printed in silver fills the 
enrirc width of the scroll. Cranes in silver 
and gold soar upward toward the right 
as the point of view is directed toward the 
sky. The scroll concludes with a sequence of 
peonies seen from a close standpoint. 

Over this luminous design with its dra- 
matic and constantly changing patterns, the 
poems are written. Using cursive katia 
script in combination with selected cursive 
Chinese characters, Koetsu freely varied the 
scale and composition of characters, the 




length of the lines, and their arrangement 
on the page. Rather than paralleling the 
compositional arrangements of the decora- 
tive motifs, the calligraphy establishes an 
independent cadence as the lines rise and 
fall, swell, and diminish to the faintest 
whisper of a single, slender syllable written 
at the lowermost edge of the page. Always 
conscious of the aesthetic character of the 
printed decoration, the caliigraphcr has 
responded with originality and imagination. 
In the passage of traiUng ivy vines, a se- 
quence of characters representing five 
syllables, "au koto no," is written in bold, 
highly abbreviated cursive script that de- 
scends from among the foliage as if it were 
a curling tendril of ivy. The sense of dy- 
namic interaction between the writing and 
decoration is nowhere more apparent 
than in the passage where cranes soar up- 
ward toward the right in opposition to the 
descending lines of calligraphy progressing 
toward the left. 

For his achievements in calligraphy, 
Koetsu is counted among the Three Brushes 



of the Kan'ei Era (1624-44) [J: Kan'ci 
Sampitsu], together with Shokado (see cat, 
no. 26) and Konoc Nobutada (see cat. no. 
27). A master of many arts who was born to 
a family of sword connoisseurs, Koetsu had 
a deep appreciation of craft techniques, 
which is evident in the original designs of 
papers he preferred for his calligraphy. 
From 1615, Koetsu lived with a group of 
artists and craftsmen at Takagaminc outside 
Kyoto. 

Koetsu's writing, characterized by pro- 
nounced variation in the width of line and 
of characters, strong internal rhythm, 
and expressive control of ink tone, reveals 
his close study of both Chinese and Japanese 
caUigraphic traditions. His calligraphy 
ranks as one of the supreme achievements in 
the history of Japanese calligraphy. 

1, Freer Gallery of Art acc. nos, 03.138-03. 141. 

2. For Japanese texts of the poems, see Kokin wakashii 
in NKBT, vol. 8 (1958), pp. 225-30. For English trans- 
lations, see McCullough 1985, pp. 139-44; Laurel Ras- 
plica Rodd with Mary Catherine Henkenius, Koktiuhii: 



A Coileclion of Poems Aiidenl and Modem (Princeton. 
NJ.: Princeton University Press. 1984). pp. 226-34. 

Published: Shimada, Akiyama, and Yamanc 1979-81, 
vol. 5: Rimpa, pis. i j and 16 and pp 125-26; FGA 
Handbook 1976. p. 118; FCA II: Japan 1974, pi, 37 and 
pp, 164-65; Shimada 1969. vol. i, pt, 1. p. 43 and pt, 
2, pp. 60-61. 




Japanese Calligraphy 85 



29 Thirty-Six Poem-sheets (Shikishi) from the Shin kokiri wakashu 



mixed scripts: cursive Japanese hiragana with semicursive and cursive Chinese scripts 
by Hon'ami Koetsu (1558-1637) 
Japan, Edo period; early 17th century 

pair of six-panel folding screens; ink on paper with gold, silver, and color 
screen: height 168.2 cm {66V4 in); length 375.7 cm in) 
poem-sheets approximately: height 19.7 cm {jVh in); width 17.4 cm {6V» in) 
02. 195 and 02. 196 



Thirty-six poem-sheets (shikislii) are pasted 
on a pair of screens over a painting that 
forms a continuous composition linking the 
two screens. Executed predominantly in 
gold with touches of color and ink, the 
painting depicts a bamboo blind facing a 
garden fdled with peonies, autumn flowers, 
and grasses. Many of the flowers are exe- 
cuted in a relief technique known as inoriage, 
in which areas are built up with white 
pigment under the surface gold. 

The thirty-six poems chosen for this 
screen come from the Shin kokin wakashu 
(New Anthology of Ancient and Modern 
Japanese Verse, compiled a.d. 1205). Each 
poem is written on a separate sheet of paper 
that is lightly colored, and painted with an 
individual design m gold and silver. The 
placement of the papers on the screens 
forms a visual pattern in itself, echoing in 
large scale the varied composition of the 
lines of cursive calligraphy. The relatively 
large and simplified forms of the painted 
motifs are close in style to those seen in 
collaborative works with underpaintings by 
Tawaraya Sotatsu (act. ca. 1600-1649) and 
calligraphy by Koetsu, to whom the poems 
on this screen are attributed on the basis of 
their style. 

Among the surviving calligraphic works 
attributed to Koetsu are many poem-sheets 
decorated with motifs in silver and gold 
that harmonize well with the strong forms 
of his writing. The verses of these poem- 
sheets, which often were made in sets 
for mounting in albums or on screens, are 
predominantly chosen from the Shin kokin 
wakashu, which Koetsu considered to be 
unsurpassed in quality. 

Koetsu's writing reflects his study of 
Chinese calligraphy, including that of the 
Song-period scholar Zhang Jizhi (1166- 
1286). In writing Japanese waka poems, 
typically thirty-one syllables in length, 
Koetsu freely incorporated Chinese charac- 
ters, which vary the rhythmic flow and 
formal characteristics of the calligraphy. 
Even his cursive kana characters are written 
with pronounced modulations in the move- 
ment, angle, and pressure of the brush, 
which give his writing a dynamic quality 
that contrasts to the elegant classicism of his 
younger contemporary, Shokado (sec cat. 
no. 26). 



1 ■ " — ■ 



i , .I 

•lis is 



Ik 




righthand screen, 02.195 




lefthand screen, 02.196 



The writing in this set of poem-sheets 
reveals a slight tremor of the hand, espe- 
cially in the jagged outer contours of the 
broad, curved strokes where the brush tip 
was held at a pronounced angle while its 
direction was changed. This characteristic 
of Koetsu's late works places the probable 
date of execution of these poem-sheets 
during the Kan'ei era (1624-44) when the 
calligraphcr was about seventy.' 

Acquired by Charles Lang Freer (1854- 
1919) in 1902, this pair of screens- is one of 
several calligraphic works attributed to 
Koetsu that come from Freer's collection 
(see also cat. no. 28). The presence of pure 
works of calligraphy in his collection is 
remarkable for a time when the art of 



calligraphy was little appreciated by collec- 
tors in the West. For his devotion to Koetsu, 
Freer was honored by the placement of a 
memorial on the grounds of the temple in 
Kyoto where Koetsu's tomb is located. 

1. Komatsu 1981, pp. 126-27. 

2. Records from the time of purchase of these screens 
from the Japanese art dealer Matsuki Bunkyo (1867- 
1940) state that they were once in the collection of a 
retainer to Marquis Hachisuka of Awa (now in Chiba 
Prefecture). 

Published: Komatsu 198 1, pp. 65-66 and 126-27. 



88 




Japanese Calligraphy 89 



30 Japanese Poems 

mixed scripts: cursive Japanese hiragana and cursive Chinese scripts 
by Kojima Soshin (1580-ca. 1656) 
Japan, Edo period; dated 1652 
handscroll; ink on paper with gold and color 
height 29.2 cm (11V2 in); length 708.8 cm (278 in) 
_76£ 



On paper decorated with detailed paintmgs 
of fields of flowers seen through bands of 
golden mist are selected Japanese poems, 
many of them originally composed for 
poetry competitions {uta-awase). According 
to conventions established in court circles of 
the Heian period (794-1185), those present 
at these gatherings would produce poems 
on a specified theme that would be critically 
judged in comparison to others composed 
for the same occasion. 

The calligraphy by Kojima Soshin, a 
disciple of Hon'ami Koetsu (see cat. nos. 28 
and 29), is written in a style that reflects 
Koetsu's preference for writing Japanese 
poems in relatively large-scale cursive 
Japanese kana script combined with Chinese 
characters selected for emphasis. In compar- 
ison to Koetsu's writing, however, Soshin's 
calligraphy reveals his habit of holding the 
brush at an angle, a technique that concen- 
trates the turns of the brush at the tip, 
thereby exaggerating the turns of the brush 
and the transitions between thin and thick 
strokes. Accents of dark ink appear more 
regularly than in Koetsu's writing, and the 
relatively uniform tone reduces the expres- 
sive impact of the contrasts of dark and 
light that are characteristic of Koetsu's 
writing. The rather loose, open structure of 
the characters combined with their looping 
forms gives Soshin's writing a spacious, 
decorative quality. 

Relatively little is known about the life of 
Soshin, but like Koetsu, he seems to have 
had close contacts among the skilled crafts- 
men of Kyoto, including the textile designer 
Ogata Soken (1621-1687), who was the 
father of the artists Korin (1658-1716) and 
Kenzan (1663-1743). The minute and 
elegant decoration of this scroll is reminis- 
cent of designs for fine textiles and for 
lacquer, both crafts that flourished in Kyoto. 
At the end of the scroll is a brief inscription 
giving the date as the eleventh lunar month 
of the first year of thejoo era (1652). The 
date is followed by Soshin's signature 
and two seals, and the calligrapher gives his 
age as seventy-three.' 

I. A similarly decorated scroll by Soshin dated three 
years later is illustrated in the catalogue Nikon no 
she (Tokyo: Tokyo National Museum, 1978), cat. no. 
328. 

References: Shimizu and Rosenfield 1984, pp. 262-63; 
Komatsu 1970, vol. i, pp. 494-95 and vol, 2, figs. 
1425-30. 




detail 



90 




Japanese Calligraphy 91 



30 Japanese Poems 



mixed scripts: cursive Japanese hiragtina and cursive Chinese scripts 

by Kojima Soshin (1580-ca. 1656) 

Japan, Edo period; dated 1652 

handscroU; ink on paper with gold and color 

height 29.2 cm (iiVi in); length 708. 8 cm (278 in) 

76.8 



On paper decorated with detailed paintings 
of fields of flowers seen through bands of 
golden mist are selected Japanese poems, 
many of them originally composed for 
poetry competitions (tita-awase). According 
to conventions established m court circles of 
the Heian period (794-1185), those present 
at these gatherings would produce poems 
on a specified theme that would be critically 
judged in comparison to others composed 
for the same occasion. 

The caUigraphy by Kojima Soshin. a 
disciple of Hon'ami Koetsu (see cat. nos. 28 
and 29). is written in a style that reflects 
Koetsu's preference for writing Japanese 
poems in relatively large-scale cursive 
Japanese kana script combined with Chinese 
characters selected for emphasis. In compar- 
ison to Koetsu's writing, however, Soshin's 
calligraphy reveals his habit of holding the 
brush at an angle, a technique that concen- 
trates the turns of the brush at the tip, 
thereby exaggerating the turns of the brush 
and the transitions between chin and thick 
strokes. Accents of dark ink appear more 
regularly than in Koetsu's wnting, and the 
relatively uniform tone reduces the expres- 
sive impact of the contrasts of dark and 
light that are characteristic of Koetsu's 
writing. The rather loose, open structure of 
the characters combined with their looping 
forms gives Soshin's writing a spacious, 
decorative quality. 

Relatively little is known about the hfe of 
Soshin, but hke Koetsu, he seems to have 
had close contacts among the skilled crafts- 
men of Kyoto, including the textile designer 
Ogata Soken (1621-1687), who was the 
father of the artists Korin (1658-1716) and 
Kenzan (1663-1743). The minute and 
elegant decoration of this scroll is reminis- 
cent of designs for fine textiles and for 
lacquer, both crafts that flourished in Kyoto. 
At the end of the scroll is a brief inscription 
giving the date as the eleventh lunar month 
of the first year of the J66 era (1652). The 
date is followed by Soshin's signature 
and two seals, and the calligrapher gives his 
age as seventy-three.' 

I. A similarly decorated scroll by Soshin dated three 
years later is illustrated in the catalogue Nihon no 
sho (Tokyo: Tokyo National Museum, 1978). cat no 




References; Shimizu and Roscnfield 1984, pp. 262-63; 
Komatsu 1970, vol. 1. pp. 494-95 and vol. 2, figs. 
142S-30 



90 




Japanese Calligraphy 91 



31 Inkstone Case (Suzuribako) 



cursive Japanese hiragana script 
by Masatsune 

Japan, Edo period; early 17th century 

lacquer on wood with gold and silver powders, inlaid silver, and metal binding on rims 

height 5.0 cm (2 in); width 21.6 cm (8'/2 m); length 23.7 cm (9^8 in) 

44.22 



In Japan, decorated lacquered boxes are 
customarily used to store and transport the 
materials needed for writing: inkstone, 
water-dropper, brushes, and ink. Made and 
decorated with precious materials at great 
expense, they were cherished and handed 
down as family treasures. 

A poem-picture (uta-e) merging pictorial 
and calligraphic elements decorates the lid 
of this inkstone case. The silver forms of 
three syllables of hiragatia phonetic script are 
concealed in the contours of the foreground 
rocks. When deciphered to form a word, 
nezame (to awaken from sleep), the charac- 
ters provide a verbal clue that must be 
"read" with the pictorial imagery of the 
nocturnal autumn scene to identify a specihc 
poem, in this case from the famous imperial 
anthology Kokin wakashu (Anthology of 
Ancient and Modern Japanese Verse), 
compiled a.d. 905: 



aki nara de 

oku shiratsuyu wa 

nezame sum 
waga tamakura no 

shizuku narikeri 

KKS XV: 757I 



They were but tears 
shed 

upon my pillowing 

sleeve 
when I awakened — 
those transparent 

drops of dew 
straying from 

autumn's season. - 



All of the imagery of the poem is incorpo- 
rated in the picture. Autumn grasses domi- 
nate the scene, as if the viewer, too, were 
among them. An open sleeve in the distinc- 
tively stylized form transmitted from 
earlier depictions of Heian-period costume 
(see cat. no. 23) is rendered in low relief 
to the left. 

The poem-picture is a Japanese applica- 
tion of calligraphy that first appears in 
the arts of the Heian period. In the world of 
the Heian aristocracy, the composition and 
transcription of poetry was widely prac- 
ticed, and such tests of expertise as the 
poem-picture were both amusing and 
challenging. The fusion of writing, incor- 
porating only a few syllables of a whole 
poem, with the picture in uta-e presumes a 
detailed knowledge of classical poetry on 
the part of the viewer. The frequency with 
which poems from the Kokin ivakashu are 
quoted by calligraphers indicates that for 




base showing water-dropper, inkstone, and tray for brushes 



many, its verses were familiar and fondly 
regarded. 

Poem-pictures executed in silver and gold 
are especially prevalent in the decoration of 
lacquer suzuribako of the Muromachi period 
(1392-1573). This box is a rare example of 
an uta-e design on a lacquer object datable 
to the early seventeenth century. The maker, 
a master lacquerer, is identified only by the 
name, Masatsune, provided by a small 
inscription in seal-script characters beneath 
an inner tray. Characteristics of the design 
and technique suggest that the artist be- 
longed to the Igarashi school of lacquerers, 
trained in Kyoto but later active in Kaga 
Province (modern Ishikawa Prefecture). 



1. Kokin wakashu [KKS] in NKBT. vol. 8 (1958), p. 
252, no. 757- 

2. McCullough 1985, p. 167. 

Published: Ann Yonemura, Japanese Lacquer (Washing- 
ton, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institu- 
tion, 1979), pp. 38-39; Freer Gallery of Art, The Arts oj 
Asia at the Time of American Independence (Washington, 
D.C.; Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, 
197.S). P- 25; Alexander G. Mosle, The Mosle Collection 
(Leipzig, 1933), vol. 2, p. 34, no. 1683. 



92 




Japanese Calligraphy 93 



32 "Iron Flute'' 

standard script 

by Kogetsu Sogan (i 574-1643) 

Japan, late Momoyama to early Edo period; early 17th century 

hanging scroll; ink on paper 

height 30.6 cm (12 in); width 90.5 cm (35% in) 

8 1, 12 




Mounted as a hanging scroll for display in 
the alcove (J: tokonoma) of a tearoom, this 
calligraphy presents a forceful image domi- 
nated by the two characters "tetteki" (C: 
tiedi), meaning "iron flute." Written with a 
large brush heavily laden with thick black 
ink, the characters have a monumental 
quality. The title may refer to a Chinese 
account of magical iron flute given to the 
blind fortuneteller Sun Shouyong (act. ca. 
1225).' Following the title in smaller script 
is a Chinese couplet with the enigmatic 
text: 

A kind of sound which has infinite resonance 
Is audible yet inaudible.^ 



The calligraphy is an example of bokuseki 
(literally, "ink traces"), calligraphy written 
by Zen (C: Chan) Buddhist monks, which 
reflects their disciplined character and 
spiritual devotion. In the Zen sect, which 
stresses transmission of teachings from 
master to disciple, the calligraphy of previ- 
ous masters took on a special importance as 
a visible reminder of their achievements. 
Scrolls of calligraphy by prominent Zen 
monks were handed down within temples, 
from master to disciple, or exchanged 
among colleagues as a tangible embodiment 
of doctrine and community. The Chinese 
literature and calligraphic styles that formed 
the basis of their scholarly study were 



transmitted by the founders of Japanese Zen 
monasteries during the twelfth to thirteenth 
centuries. 

The inscription is followed by the callig- 
rapher's signature, "Kogetsu-so sho" 
("written by Old Kogetsu"). The upper seal 
in the form of a Chinese bronze tripod 
reads, "Setsu kyaku" ("Broken leg[s]"). 
Below it is a circular seal reading "Tozen" 
("Eastward advance"), apparently a refer- 
ence to the eastward advance of Buddhism. 

The signature and seals identify the 
calligrapher as Kogetsu Sogan. The son of a 
famous tea master, he began his long asso- 
ciation with the great Kyoto Zen-sect 
temple, Daitoku-ji, as a young boy. Ad- 



94 



vancing quickly in the religious order, he 
became abbot of the Oaitoku-ji in 1610. He 
subsequently had a prominent role in the 
religious and cultural life of the early Edo 
period, associating closely with Emperor 
Gomizunoo (r. 161 1-29) and with the 
second and third Tokugawa shoguns, Toku- 
gawa Hidetada (1579-1632) and Tokugawa 
lemitsu (1604-1651). 

The calligraphy reveals a strong and 
confident personal style, grounded in the 
tradition of Daitoku-ji monks such as 
Shuho Myocho (1282-1337) and Tetsuo 
Giko (1295-1369). The large-character 
inscriptions by Sogan produced impressive 



images suitable for display at a tea gather- 
ing- 

1. Sung shih, chapter 462. See Sung shih (Peking: 
Chung-hua, 1977), vol. 39, p. 13533. 

2. Translation by Yoshiaki Shimizu (1982) in unpub- 
lished curatorial records for acc. no. 81.12, Office of the 

Registrar, Freer Gallery of Art. overleaf: detail, cat. no. 32 



Japanese Calligraphy 95 



32 "Iron Flute" 

standard script 

by Kogetsu Sogan (1574-1643) 

Japan, late Momoyama to early Edo period; early 17th century 

hanging scroll; ink on paper 

height 30.6 cm (12 in); width 90.5 cm (35% in) 

81.12 




Mounted as a hangmg scroU for display in 
the alcove (J; tokonoma) of a tearoom, this 
calligraphy presents a forceful image domi- 
nated by the two characters "tetteki" (C: 
liedi), meaning "iron flute." Written with a 
large brush heavily laden with thick black 
ink, the characters have a monumental 
quality The title may refer to a Chinese 
account of magical iron flute given to the 
blind fortuncteUer Sun Shouyong (act. ca. 
1225).' Following the title in smaller script 
is a Chinese couplet with the enigmatic 
text: 

A kind of sound which has itifinile resotiatue 
Is audible yet inaudible.- 



The calligraphy is an example of bokuseki 
(literally, "ink traces"), calligraphy written 
by Zen (C: Chan) Buddhist monks, which 
reflects their disciplined character and 
spintual devotion. In the Zen sect, which 
stresses transmission of teachings from 
master to disciple, the calligraphy of previ- 
ous masters took on a special importance as 
a visible reminder of their achievements. 
Scrolls of calligraphy by prominent Zen 
monks were handed down within temples, 
from master to disciple, or exchanged 
among colleagues as a tangible embodiment 
of doctrine and community. The Chinese 
literature and calligraphic styles that formed 
the basis of their scholarly study were 



transmitted by the founders of Japanese Zen 
monasteries during the twelfth to thirteenth 
centuries. 

The inscription is followed by the callig- 
rapher's signature, "K6gctsu-s6 sho" 
("written by Old Kogetsu"). The upper seal 
in the form of a Chinese bronze tripod 
reads, "Setsu kyaku" ("Broken leg[s]"). 
Below it is a circular seal reading "Tozcn" 
("Eastward advance"), apparently a refer- 
ence to the eastward advance of Buddhism. 

The signature and seals identify the 
calligrapher as Kogetsu Sogan. The son of a 
famous tea master, he began his long asso- 
ciation with the great Kyoto Zen-sect 
temple, Daitoku-ji. as a young boy. Ad- 



94 



vancing quickly in the religious order, he 
became abbot of the Daitoku-ji in 1610. He 
subsequently had a prominent role in the 
religious and cultural hfe of the early Edo 
period, associating closely with Emperor 
Gomizunoo (r. 1611-29) and with the 
second and third Tokugawa shoguns, Toku- 
gawa Hidetada (1579-1632) and Tokugawa 
lemitsu (1604-1651). 

The calligraphy reveals a strong and 
confident personal style, grounded in the 
tradition of Daitoku-ji monks such as 
Shuho Myocho (1282-1337) and Tetsuo 
Giko (1295-1369). The large-character 
inscriptions by Sogan produced impressive 



images suitable for display at a tea gather- 
ing. 

1. Sung shih. chapter 462 See Sung shih (Peking: 
Chung-hua, 1977). vol. 39, p. I3533> 

2. Translation by Yoshiaki Shimizu (1982) in unpub- 
lished curatorial records for acc. no. 81.12, Office of the 
Registrar, Freer Gallery of Art. 



overleaf: detail, cat. no. 32 



Japanese Calligraphy 95 



96 




33 Chinese Phrase 



cursive script 

by Muan Xingtao (J: Mokuan Shoto, 1611-1684) 
Japan, Edo period; 17th century 
hanging scroll; ink on paper 

height 137.5 cm (5414 in); width 28.5 cm (11V4 in) 
80. 195 



A single column of five widely separated 
cursive Chinese characters written with 
vigorous brush strokes gives a phrase that 
carries a number of meanings. It may be 
literally rendered, "The tip of the stick 
opens the true [or orthodox] eye." The stick 
may be understood to refer to the stick 
used by Zen (C: Chan) masters in training 
their disciples. 

In the single line of cursive script along 
the lefthand edge of the scroll, the calhgra- 
pher identifies himself as "The thirty- 
third generation after Rinzai [C: Linji], 
Obaku Mokuan [C: Huangbo Muan]." The 
signature is followed by two seals. The 
upper intaglio seal reads, "Shaku-kai to in 
[Seal of Ordained Monk (Shoto)]." The 
lower seal carved in relief reads, "Mokuan 
shi." In the upper right corner is another 
seal, reading, "Hogai gakushi." 

Muan, better known by the Japanese 
form of his name as Mokuan, was a Chinese 
monk of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism 
who resided in Japan from 1655 until the 
end of his life. He joined other Chinese and 
Japanese monks in the Obaku (C: Huangbo) 
sect of Zen Buddhism that established itself 
separately from the Japanese Rinzai sect. 
He served for the last sixteen years of 
his life as an abbot of the head temple of the 
sect, the Mampuku-ji in Kyoto. 

Exempted from the restrictions against 
foreign contact that were imposed by 
the Tokugawa shogunate, the Mampuku-ji 
had an important cultural role in transmit- 
ting the arts and learning of contemporary 
China to Japan. Like Mokuan, many of the 
early abbots of the Obaku sect were accom- 
plished calligraphers. Their work was 
collected and handed down in Japan for its 
distinctive style that derived from that of 
late Ming-dynasty Chinese calligraphers. 
Calligraphy by Obaku monks influenced the 
evolution of Chinese calligraphic styles in 
Edo-period (161 5-1868) Japan. 

An excellent and productive calligrapher, 
Mokuan left many works. One other 
scroll by Mokuan, on the theme "empti- 
ness," is in the collection of the Freer Gallery 
of Art.' 

1. Freer Gallery of Art acc. no. 75 .19. Published in 
Murray 1979, pp. 69-70. 

References: Shimizu and Rosenfield 1984, pp. 1 12-21 
and 164-65; Addiss 1978. 



98 



34 Chinese Couplet 

cursive and semicursive Chinese scripts 

by Gion Nankai (1677-175 1) 

Japan, Edo period; i8th century 

hanging scroll; ink on paper 

height 1 10. 1 cm (43 in); width 25.5 cm (10 in) 

Gift of Dr. Kurt A. Gitter, in memory of Dr. Harold P. Stern 

78.11 

Two Hues of fluently written semicursive 
and cursive Chinese characters express a 
sentiment of contentment in rural life, 
a metaphor for the ideal of Chinese scholars 
(C: weriren) who longed for freedom from 
their official duties: 

Cramped yet without hindrance in my thatched 
hut 

Content in poverty, I enjoy the scent of cabbage. 

Beginning in the seventeenth century a 
group of Japanese calligraphers and painters 
assimilated the artistic ideals of the Chinese 
scholar who wrote calligraphy or poetry 
or painted as an avocation to his official 
duties. Known as bunjin (literary men), they 
spread their ideas throughout Japan, giving 
rise to a creative movement in calligraphy, 
literary studies and practice, and painting 
that had as its basis the arts, language, and 
critical theory of China. 

Gion Nankai, whose signature "Genyu," 
a sobriquet, and seals' appear on the scroll, 
is considered to be one of the founders of 
Japanese literati painting. The son of a 
doctor who served the military rulers of Kii 
Province (modern Wakayama Prefecture), 
Nankai became a teacher of Confucianism. 
After a decade of exile from 1700 to 1710 
for an unspecified offense, he returned 
to the provincial capital, where he continued 
to teach, and to study and practice Chinese 
painting, hi light ot Nankai s biography, the 
text inscribed on this scroll takes on a 
poignant irony as it recalls not only conven- 
tional sentiment but also his personal 
experience of exile. 

I. The upper intaglio seal beneath the signature reads, 
"Genyu no in." The lower relief seal reads, "Kan fujin 
sho sen saishu." 

References: Buujinga suihen, vol. ii: Gion Nankai, Yana- 
gisawa Kien (Tokyo; Chuo koronsha, 1975); James F. 
Cahill, Scholar-Painters of Japan: The Nanga School (New 
York: Asia House Gallery, 1972), pp. 15-17. 




Japanese Calligraphy 



35 Branch of Plum in a Vase 



semicursive and cursive Chinese scripts 

painting and calligraphy by Tanomura Chikuden (^111- 

Japan, Edo period; dated 1834 

panel-mounted hanging scroll; ink on paper 

height 31.7 cm (121/2 in); width 22.5 cm (SYs in) 

76.1 



An intnnate and highly personal quality is 
embodied in this small painting of a with- 
ered blossoming branch in a vase with a 
cracked-ice pattern. Nearly balanced in 
visual terms, the calligraphy and the paint- 
ing have roles of equal importance. Close in 
spirit and expression to Chinese literati 
painting, the work reflects the Japanese 
artist's remarkable assimilation of the ideals 
of the literati (J: bunjin; C: wenreti). 

The inscription, written in semicursive 
script, describes the circumstances that 
inspired the painting. The painter, Chiku- 
den, whose signature and seal appears at the 
end of the inscription near the base of the 
vase, commemorates a visit with Zen 
(C: Chan) master Soshin, whose company 
he enjoyed during a stay at a lodge in 
Koriyama village in modern Oita Prefec- 
ture. He describes their discussions lasting 
through the winter night, and recalls the 
image of the Zen master Soshin seated 
beside the vase of flowering plum. 

Like the calligraphy, the painting is exe- 
cuted swiftly and spontaneously. Swift, dry 
strokes of the brush sketch the form of the 
vase. On its sparse branches, dehcate 
blossoms are depicted in threadlike strokes 
of pale ink. The simple image recalls the 
whole experience of Chikuden's discourse 
with the Zen master. The date given by the 
inscription, the fourth year of the Tempo 
era, first day of the twelfth lunar month, 
corresponds to January 10, 1834. Written 
and painted in the last year of Chikuden's 
life, the work assumes a significant place 
among the artist's oeuvre.' 

I. One other painting by Chikuden bearing his own 
inscription is in the collection of the Freer Gallery 
of Art (acc. no. 75.3). 

Published: Murray 1979, pp. 74-75. 



100 




Japanese Calligraphy loi 



Introduction to Islamic Calligraphy 



Through the qalam [pen] existence receives God's orders, 
From Him the candle oj the qalam receives its light. 
The qalam is a cypress in the garden of knowledge , 
The shadow of its order is spread over dust} 

These words written by Qadi Ahmad, a sixteenth-century Iranian artist and 
critic, suggest the remarkable importance that calligraphy held within the 
Muslim world. Invested with God's power, and as an instrument of his will, 
writing acquired a special status that no other artistic expression was able 
to attain. The nineteen Islamic objects in this exhibition reflect the range and 
variety of this calligraphic tradition. They date from the ninth century to 
the seventeenth, and come from North Africa in the west to India in the east. 
Included among them are Qur'anic pages, poetic manuscripts, individual 
calligraphies, metal and stone works, and ceramics. Although the writing on 
some of the objects was meant only to convey a specific message, on others it 
was intended to enhance their beauty. Often the two functions were insepa- 
rable. One Mughal historian noted: 

In the eyes of the friends of true beauty, a letter is the source from which the light 
confined within beams forth; and, in the opinion of the far-sighted, it is the world- 
refiecting cup in the abstract. The letter, a magical power, is spiritual geometry ema- 
nating from the pen of invention; a heavenly writ from the hand of fate; it contains 
the secret word, and is the tongue of the hand.- 

The capacity both to carry a specific message, or series of messages — 
some exoteric and others esoteric^ — and to act independently ot those mes- 
sages, gives calligraphy a distinct quality. Moreover, because of its inherent 
flexibility, the use of calligraphy was not limited to two-dimensional surfaces 
or to certain types of objects. Although calligraphy s prominence makes it 
one of the most easily recognized aspects of Islamic art, it is also the most 
difficult to understand. The problem stems in part from the complexity of 
the languages involved — Arabic and to a lesser extent Persian and Turkish — 
and in part from the kind of aesthetic standards involved in responding 
to it. Arabic (a Semitic language), as opposed to Persian (an Indo- 
European language) and Turkish (a Euro-Altaic language), is synthetic or 
inflectional, like Latin. Its alphabet, which is used with slight modification 
for Persian and Turkish, consists of twenty-eight letters, three of which can 
function as long vowels; short vowels are usually not recorded. Letters are 
generally linked to each other and have four configurations depending upon 
whether they arc written alone or as the initial, medial, or terminal part of 
a word. The six letters alif { ] ), dal ( j ), dhal ( ',3 ), ra {j ), za ( j ), and waw 
( J ) can be connected only to the letters preceding them. 



102 



Given Arabic's unique role within the MusHm world as the bearer of the 
divine revelation, it is easy to see how calligraphy — the act of recording 
God's words as transmitted by the prophet through the Qur'an — became 
central to any artistic expression. It is equally apparent that the identification 
of the Arabic script with the Muslims during the first years of Islam led to a 
general association of the script with the culture at large, so that it became 
the most obvious element of the new faith. What is much less clear is how 
this process occurred and the extent to which a conscious set of controls was 
established to govern the shape, form, and articulation of the script. For 
instance, although it is possible to trace the evolution of Arabic from a rela- 
tively "free" script having no formal set of rules concerning diacritical marks 
and vowels during the eighth and ninth centuries (see cat. no. 36 and fig. 1 1), 
to a much more rigid script during the tenth and eleventh centuries, it is not 
at all apparent how the letters themselves achieved, in a matter of years, such 
uniform shapes. It is virtually impossible to distinguish between Qur'ans 
copied in North Africa and Iraq during the tenth and eleventh centuries and 
those copied in Iran. 

Most studies of Islamic calligraphy have concentrated on historical ques- 
tions. The important work of Nabia Abbott, Annemarie Schimmel, Martin 
Lings, Yasin Safadi, and Adolf Grohmann, among others, has created a 
substantial body of information concerning certain aspects of this phenome- 
non.'* The following observations grow out of their work and are meant to 
suggest both the richness and the complexity of this material. From the ninth 
century on, if not before, there exist numerous documents, objects, and 
historical and biographical accounts that allow the development of calligraphy 
to be traced from mail and ku fic — angular scripts initially associated with the 
copying of the holy Qur'an — to the evolution of a series of cursive scripts. 
Within this context three men are accorded special status: ibn Muqla, ibn al- 
Bawwab, and Yaqut al-Mustasimi. These calligraphers are generally thought 
by most historians of the subject to be the pivotal figures in a direct chain of 
transmission whose ultimate source was the prophet Muhammad.^ Ibn Muqla 
(d. 940), a vizier to the Abbasid caliphs al-Muqtadir (r. 908-32), al-Qahir (r. 
932-34), and al-Radi (r. 934-40) in Baghdad, is credited with standardizing 
and codifying the rules for beautiful writing based on the use of rhombic 
points for establishing the correct shape of letters. He is also considered to be 
the inventor of the six major cursive scripts, or manners of writing, used 
throughout the Muslim world: thuluth, naskh (or iiaskhi), riliaii, muhaqqaq, 
tauqi, and riqa. Four more scripts, ghuhar, tumar, taliq, and fiastaliq, were later 
added to ibn Muqla's repertoire. 

Although the differences between these scripts are often subtle, they are 
nevertheless easily discernible. Thuluth (which means literally "one third" 
and derives its name from the principle that a third of each letter should 



Ititwductio}! to Islamic Calligraphy 103 



slope) and muhaqqaq (which means "strongly expressed"), for instance, are 
relatively dynamic and monumental scripts with well-formed letters that 
emphasize vertical and horizontal movements (see cat. no. 41); iiaskli (which 
means an act of cancellation or of abrogation) uses smaller and more rounded 
characters that play on diagonal thrusts (see cat. nos. 38, 39, 43, and 53). 
Riqa, on the other hand, combines the qualities of both naskh and thuliitli and 
has a densely structured system of short ligatures with the final letters of 
one word often linked to the first letters of the next. Taliq (which means to 
suspend or to hang) and nastaliq (which theoretically derives its name from 
the joining of naskh and taliq), in contrast to other scripts, have characters 
that appear to swing from the upper right to the lower left of each word as if 
suspended by an imaginary line. The light cursive letters of these scripts 
change abruptly from their maximum width to their minimum, and end in 
fine, razorlike points (see cat. nos. 45-52).'^' 

Ibn al-Bawwab (d. 1022), who was also an illuminator, is believed to 
have perfected the manner of writing developed by ibn Muqla by bringing a 
sense of grace and elegance to the geometric harmony of the latter's charac- 
ters. He is especially noted for his perfection of tiaskhi and muhaqqaq. Yaqut 
al-Mustasimi (d. 1298), by inventing a way of trimming reed pens and clip- 
ping their nibs to form an oblique cut, helped establish new norms of beauty 
in writing. 

Despite the importance of these calligraphers and the many manuscripts 
known from secondary sources to have been copied by them, there are almost 
no examples of writing that can be securely attributed to them. For instance, 
of the sixty-four Qur'ans and numerous secular works reputedly produced 
by ibn al-Bawwab, only one Qur'an, dated looo-iooi and now in the Ches- 
ter Beatty Library, is unquestionably by him.^ Consequently, our knowledge 
of the work of these masters is at best cursory. Although this problem can 
be viewed as largely one of connoisseurship, it raises the issue of whether it is 
valid to look at the evolution of calligraphy as a linear development focused 
around these figures. This is not to say that one cannot — or should not — 
distinguish between the contribution of individual hands. Indeed, this is not 
only possible but is essential given the critical mass of material that exists 
from the fourteenth century on, both for the great masters, such as Mir Ali 
al-Tabrizi (ca. 1340-1420), Sultan Ali (1442-1519), and Shaykh Hamdullah 
(d. 1520), and those who are less well known. The question, however, is the 
extent to which information derived from this kind of approach is necessary 
to our understanding of Islamic calligraphy. 

It can be argued, for instance, that the real issue is epistemological: what 
are the salient characteristics of the script that give it its unique character, 
and what are its operative elements? The distinction between Qur'anic scripts 
and ordinary ones as articulated by Abbott" is important here because it 



104 






Fig. 9. Silver dirham of Ismail I, Tashkent, a.h. 
283 (a.d. 896). Freer Gallery of Art; Gift of 
Joel Hettger, SC-M 59. 



suggests a basic division. Although certain kinds of script, such as knfic and 
its variations, clearly are reserved for specific functions, like the copying 
of Qur'ans or the embellishing of architectural monuments, it is not evident 
that the internal codes that guide their structure differ significantly. 

Several characteristics of Islamic calligraphy give it a distinct quality. 
Among the most significant of these are the ability of individual scripts to be 
almost endlessly modified; the adaptability of the scripts to all kinds of sur- 
faces, from parchment and paper to stone and metal; the integration of a 
variety of decorative motifs and forms into the schema of various scripts; and 
the "automatic" impact of the letters themselves. The twenty-eight characters 
of the Arabic alphabet are basically composed of three strokes: vertical, 
horizontal, and diagonal. Most letters, such as kaf (J) and sin ((J*"), are made 
up of a series of these strokes; others, however, like alif ( j ) and ra ( J ), are 
the result of a single stroke. By altering the length ot the various components 
of each character, particularly the horizontal ones, calligraphers were able to 
change the appearance of a script without affecting its basic structure. Knfic, 
for instance, can be written either in an extremely compact form (see fig. 
9) or in a much more elongated one (see cat. no. 36), depending upon the 
distance between the beginning and end of each letter. In addition, by manip- 
ulating the shape of certain letters, numerous variations can be developed on 
a standard script. In the western Muslim world, tor example, the sharp, 
angular characters of knfic were given a more rounded form (see cat. no. 40). 
This is particularly evident in the vertical strokes and final flourishes of some 
letters that are turned into sweeping curves that plunge below the main line 
of the script. Similarly, by twisting, braiding, and ornamenting the ends and 
stems of certain letters, such as alif ( | ) and lam ( J ), a whole range of deco- 
rative features can be added to a script. During the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries this technique reached its most complicated form when a number 
of scripts, including knfic and iiasklii, were radically transformed as letters 
were converted into human and animal shapes (see cat. no. 39 and fig. 11). 

The inherent flexibility of the letters of the various scripts allowed them 
to be adapted to almost any kind of surface yet maintain their essential 
characteristics. Thus, the knfic and naskhi on the carved-stone building in- 
scription (cat. no. 38) and the naskhi on the circular ornament (cat. no. 54) 
both have a fluidity of line as if they were written in ink on paper. Moreover, 
because the actual shape and size ot most letters can be altered, it is relatively 
easy to modify scripts to meet the needs of a given surface or medium. Kn fic, 
for instance, can be compressed and given a rounded form to fit on the face 
of a circular coin (fig. 9), or stretched out and given an angular form to 
follow the surface of a rectangular page (see cat. no. 36). The process of 
adaptation enables calligraphy to become an integral part of an object's deco- 
ration. This is particularly evident on a number of tenth- and eleventh- 



Ititrodncfioti to Islamic Calligraphy 105 



II 

! 



Fig. 10. Large ceramic plate with wide flattened 
rim and low foot, Iran, tenth century. Freer 
Gallery of Art, 52.11. 




century Samanid plates and bowls (see cat. no. 37 and fig. 10), but it is by no 
means limited to them. The curving horizontal lines of the script punctuated 
by the strong vertical forms of some of the letters on these Samanid wares 
create rhythms that are as evocative and powerful as the fmest ornamentation. 
In fact, the bowls are often devoid of any kind of decoration other than an 
inscription (see fig. 10). 

The decorative possibilities of calligraphy are not limited to calligraphy's 
use as part of an object's overall aesthetic program. The script itself can "ab- 
sorb" a variety of motifs, thus further blurring the distinction between it and 
its decoration. The most obvious examples of this integration are animated 
scripts (see cat. no. 39 and fig. 12), in which the various figures and animals 
depicting the letters of the alphabet take on a hfe of their own. More typical, 
however, is the incorporation of such details as rosettes, medallions, and 
floral designs into the fabric of the script. The arabesques on the rectangular 
plaque (cat. no. 53) and the bottle (cat. no. 42), for instance, weave in and 



106 




Fig. II. Milestone of Caliph Abd al-Malik, 
Palestine, 685-705. Musec du Louvre, 
Dcpartement des antiquitcs Onentales (section 
Islamique), AO 4087. 



out of the script, holding the letters together and emphasizing their natural 
flow. It is impossible to separate one from the other; they are part of a single 
expression. In a similar way, the flower-strewn field of the frontispiece of the 
late fourteenth-century Mamluk Qur'an (cat. no. 44), or the multicolored 
diacritical marks and verse stops of the thirteenth-century North African 
Qur'an (cat. no. 40), are an integral part of the script. The tendency to fuse 
decorative forms with calligraphic ones is apparent even in the earliest ex- 
amples of Islamic calligraphy. A milestone (fig. 1 1) erected for the caliph Abd 
al-Malik (685-705), for example, has kufic letters that end in ornamental 
flourishes, whereas ninth- and tenth-century Qur'ans (see cat. no. 36) often 
show red diacritical marks that contrast to the dark-brown ink of the writing 
in a vibrant play of colors and forms. 

The most intriguing aspect of Islamic calligraphy, however, is its "auto- 
matic" or symbolic qualities. Richard Ettinghausen and others have noted 
that there are a large number of inscriptions in the Muslim world that are 
either extremely difficult to read (no matter how well versed one is in the 
relevant language), or so full of orthographic peculiarities or mistakes as to 
render the text unreliable.^ The complicated inscriptions on such monuments 
as the seventh-century Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the eleventh-century 
Qutb Miliar in Delhi, or the seventeenth-century Masjid-i Shah in Isfahan are 
almost impossible to decipher even with an extensive knowledge of Arabic. 
Moreover, their location above eye-level, often in places having obstructed 
views, makes the task of reading them even more difficult. Furthermore, 
most people who would have come into contact with such inscriptions likely 
would have had, at best, only a cursory familiarity with the written language. 
This is especially true of monuments like the Dome of the Rock and the 
Qutb Minar that were constructed in largely non-Muslim areas and whose 
messages were directed at precisely that part of the population that would 
have had the most difficulty reading them.^'^ The same kind of problem is 
presented by the highly modified and animated scripts discussed above. 
Unless one takes great care and time and has a thorough knowledge of the 
language, the information contained in the inscriptions is not accessible. For 
example, the densely packed letters of the building inscription (cat. no. 38) or 
the twisting forms of the people and animals that make up one of the epi- 
graphs on the Freer Gallery's canteen (fig. 12), are so intricately worked and 
elaborate that they can be read only by isolating them from the rest of the 
object and deciphering them character by character. 

The point is that in many cases the viewer was not expected actually to 
read the text. This is especially clear in those instances in which an inscription 
contains "errors" that transform its meaning. A most obvious example is the 
misspelling of Badr al-Din Lulu's name on a tray in the Victoria and Albert 
Museum (fig. 13) that was once part of the ruler's household." Instead of 



Introduction to Islamic Calligraphy 107 



giving Badr al-Din's honorific title, "Father of Virtue," it has "Father of 
Oppressions," a change in nomenclature that would have been highly offen- 
sive to Badr al-Din had he bothered to take note of it. Such contrivances 
suggest that the mere presence of certain inscriptions was enough to trigger 
an automatic response on the part of the viewer. Whether or not that person 
was able to read the words of the text, the very shape of the letters — through 
their association with either the faith at large or a more private aspect of it — 
conveyed a symbolic message. For example, the Qur'anic phrases that run 
along the walls of many mosques and tombs do not need to be read word for 
word for the essence of their message to be understood. Knowledge of the 
Qur'anic allusions in the inscriptions is enough to reveal the pious context of 
the text, hi a similar manner the inscriptions containing the names of caliphs 
and holy phrases on some Fatimid robes of honor, which are too distorted by 
decorative modifications to be read, probably were never meant to be read in 
a literal sense. The "gestalt," as Ettinghausen calls it, of the inscription as a 
whole and the inclusion of the caliph's name were all that were essential. 

Two points follow from these observations. First, for an inscription to 
set off an automatic response, the viewer must have a basic idea of the type of 
message being imparted. Second, no matter how powerful the symbolic 
associations of an inscription, its full meaning can be obtained only by a 



Fig. 12. Brass canteen inlaid with silver and a 
black organic material, Syria, ca. 1240. Freer 
Gallery of Art, 41.10. 




108 




Fig. 13. Brass tray made for Badr al-Din Lulu, 
Syria, ca. 1233-59. The Victoria and Albert 
Museum, inv. no. 905-1907. 



complete reading of its text. The semiotic dimensions ot calligraphy, how- 
ever, give the inscription its full range of possible meanings. Indeed, few 
artistic expressions can be interpreted on so many levels as calligraphy. The 
classical concept of writing as the "geometry of the soul" — a notion echoed in 
almost all Islamic treatises on the subject — perhaps more than any other 
suggests calligraphy's extraordinary qualities. By seeing calligraphy not as an 
act of the hand but of the whole being, classical philosophers emphasized its 
transcendental quality. Within the Muslim world this notion was expressed 
by such statements as; 

Handwriting is the tongue of the hand. Style is the tongue of the intellect. The intellect 
is the tongue of good actions and qualities. And good actions and qualities are the 
perfection of man. 

Through beautiful writing, thoughts and ideas were given a concrete 
form that enhanced their meaning and charged their message with a special 
power. It is this aspect of calligraphy that is so exciting and that is reflected in 
the varied objects in this exhibition. 

1. Ahmad 1959, p. 49. 

2. Abul Fazl Allami, Ani-i Akbari, 3 vols. Translated into English by H. Blochniann et al. (New Delhi: Munshiram 
Manoharlal, 1977), vol. i, p. 103. 

3. Esoteric messages are seen in the symbolism associated with the twenty-eight letters of the Arabic alphabet, 
which are often used to create chronograms through their numerical values based on their connection with the 
twenty-eight stations of the moon. For more information on this numerical system, see Schimmel 1970, pp. litf. 

4. See Abbott 1939 and "Arabic Paleography," Ars hlamica 8 (1941): 65-104; Schimmel 1970 and Schimmel 1984; 
Lings 1977 and Lings and Safadi 1976; Safadi 1978; and Grohmann 1971. 

5. See, for instance, Abu Haiyan al-Tawhidi's comments in Rosenthal 1948, p. 4. 

6. For more information about the different scripts, see Safadi 1978, pp. 10-24, 'ind "W;<j«." 

7. Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, Ireland, MS. 1 431. 

8. "Arabic Paleography," p. 69tf. 

9. See, for example, Ettinghausen 1974, pp. 297-317. 

10. See, for instance, the interpretation of the Dome of the Rock articulated by Oleg Grabar in "The Umayyad 
Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem," An Oricntalis 3 (1959): 33-62. 

11. Ettinghausen 1974, pp. 304-5. 

12. Ibid., p. 304. 

13. From Abu Haiyan al-Tawhidi as translated in Rosenthal 1948, p. 11. 



Introduction to Islamic Calligraphy 109 



36 Page from a Qur'an 



kufic 

North Africa(?), late 9th to early loth century 
ink, color, and gold on parchment 
height 28.3 cm. {iiVh in); width 39.8 cm (i5"/i6 in) 
45. i6v 



The thick, almost heavy strokes of this 
page's calligraphy are typical of early kii fic. 
By tinting the background with blue and 
using red diacritical marks, the calligrapher 
has created a lively series ot surface patterns 
that emphasize the powerful movement ot 
the letters. The horizontal format ot the 
page, which is common to many early 
Qur'ans, responds to the natural forms of 
the script that call for long horizontal 
strokes. Although the oldest Qur'ans that 
have survived (dating to the eighth century)' 
avoid the use of ornamental devices and 
illuminations, by the ninth century they had 
become common.- The finely decorated 
band of illumination that divides the page 
serves a dual function: it relieves the stark- 
ness of the calligraphy and indicates the 
start of a new chapter. The tour lines above 
the illumination are from the last two verses 
of Sura XXI, "The Prophets"; the seven 
below it include the bcismala and the first two 
verses of Sura XXII, "The Pilgrimage." 
The widespread use o( kufic throughout 
most of the Muslim world during the 
eighth and ninth centuries makes it ex- 
tremely difficult to identify the locations 
where manuscripts were produced during 
this period, though major centers seem 
to have been in North Africa, Iraq, and Iran. 
Although several other Qur'ans use colored 
parchment (most notably one written in 
gold ink against a deep-blue background; 
fig. 14),^ this type is extremely rare. 




Fig. 14. Page trom a blue vellum Qur'an, North Atrica, late ninth century. Fogg Art Museum; 
Francis H. Burr Memorial fund, 1967.23. 



1. Such as the copy of the Qur'an in the British Library 
(Or. 2165) written in mail script. 

2. For more information on the development of early 
kufic, see Lings and Safadi 1976, pp. 1-23, and Lings 
1977, PP- 15-53- 

3. For more information on this manuscript, see Welch 
1979. PP- 48-49- 



Published: Atil 1975, no. 2 



I 10 




Islamic Calligraphy 1 1 1 



37 Deep Bowl with Flaring Sides 



kufic 

Iran, loth century 

ceramic with butF paste and transparent glaze 
height 1 1.2 cm (4^16 in); diameter 39.3 cm (i3'^/i6 in) 
57-24 



With its bold juxtaposition of colors and 
forms, this bowl is one of the finest Samanid 
(819-1005) slip-painted wares extant. 
Written in an eastern Iranian style, the kufic 
inscription reads, "It is said that he who is 
content with his own opinion runs into 
danger. Blessing to the owner." The inscrip- 
tion is written around an abstract tree 
whose polylobed branches revolve in a 
clockwise direction. The movement created 
by the sweep of the branches parallels that 
of the inscription, which also reads in a 
clockwise direction, and emphasizes the 
roundness of the bowl. Esin Atil has noted 
that the subtle placement of the trunk, with 
its one reversed branch, points out the 
beginning of the inscription.' Panels of 
dark-brown dots and red and brown blos- 
soms decorate the areas between the letters 
and link the words together. Eastern kufic, 
which was developed in Iran during the 
ninth century, is lighter and more dynamic 
than its parent script.- Instead of long, 
thick, horizontal strokes (see cat. no. 36), 
emphasis is on diagonal lines with triangu- 
lar-shaped letters. By softening the thrust of 
the strokes, the creators of eastern kufic 
(also referred to as al-kufi al-farisi or al kufi 
al-haghdadi) produced a script that had an 
almost infinite decorative potential.^ 

1. Atil 1973, p. 37. 

2. Lings 1977, p. 16. 

3. Ibid. 

Published: Atil 1973, no. 12 



I 12 




Islamic Calligraphy 113 



38 Building Inscription 



ktdftc and naskhi 

by Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Ahmad Asid (or Usaid) 
Iran; dated a.h. 549 (a.d. 1154-55) 
carved stone 

height 92.5 cm (36% in); width 67.6 cm (26% in) 
48.16 




This elaborately carved inscription records 
the construction of a mosque associated 
with the sanctuary of Ali b. Musa al-Riza, 
the eighth imam, who died in Mashhad 
in A.D. 818. The construction of the mosque 
was ordered by Junaid b. Ammar al-Ala 
during the reign of Sultan Sanjar (r. 1118- 
57), who repaired the tomb chamber of the 
shrine in 11 18.' By using a series of different 
scripts (plaited kujic around the edges, 
naskhi and kufic on the inner bands, and 
simple kufic just below the bosses of the 
arch), carved on different planes, the callig- 
rapher, Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Ahmad 
Asid (or Usaid), created an extremely rich 
surface that reverberates with the patterns 
of the lines. The mihrabhke shape of the 
inscription gives it a pious air that is echoed 
in the inscriptions, which include passages 
from suras III, XXXIII, XXIII, and CXII 
of the Qur'an, and a lengthy prayer to 
the twelve Shi'ite imams that can be read as 
follows: 

In the name of Allah, the merciful, the All- 
compassionate. O Allah, bless Muhammad, the 
chosen one, and Ali, the approved one, and 
Fatima, the resplendent one, and Hasan, the 
pure, and Husain, the pious, and Ali h. al- 
Husain, the ornament of the worshipers, and 
Muhammad h. Ali, the learned, and Jafar 
b. Muhammad, the just, and Musa b. Jafar, 
who suppresses his an^er, and Ali b. Musa, the 
approved one, and Muhammad, the pious, and 
Ali b. Muhammad, the lastitig proof, the 
expected one, the Mahdi. May the prayers of 
Allah be on all oj them! 



The Shi'ite sentiments of this prayer and of 
Sura XXXIII (in which the partisans of 
Ali are quoted to prove the intimate union 
of Ali with the prophet) are not surprising 
since this inscription comes from one of the 
holiest Shi'ite sanctuaries in all of Iran. At 
least two other inscriptions by Ahmad b. 
Muhammad are known: the tombstone of 
Fatima bint Zaid dated 1 141- and a tomb- 
stone now in the Metropolitan Museum of 
Art dated 1150. ^ A third tombstone, dated 
1 138, almost identical in shape and design 
to the building inscription, may also be by 
Ahmad b. Muhammad (fig. 15).'* 

1. Repertoire dnonologique d'epigraphie arahe 8, no. 2978. 

2. Arthur Upham Pope, Phyllis Ackerman et al., Sur- 
vey oj Persian Art (London and New York: Oxford 
University Press, 1938-39), vol. 5, pi. 519 E. 

3. Gaston Wict, Exposition persane de ig^i, pi. 10: A. 

4. This object bears the name of 'Uniar ibn al-Qasim 
al-Harrani, which has also been construed as "the work 
of Abu'l Qasim al-Harrani." See Welch 1979, pp. 
108-9. 




Fig. 15. Marble tombstone, Iran, a.h. 533 
(a.d. 1 1 38). Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Maria 
Antionette Evans Fund, 31.711. 



114 




Islamic Calligraphy 1 15 



39 Pen Box 



kufic and imskhi 

made by Shazi for Majd al-Mulk al-Muzaffar 
Iran, dated A. H. 607 (a.d. 1210-11) 

cast brass, engraved and chased; inlaid with copper, silver, and a black organic material 

height 5.0 cm (2 in); length 31.4 cm (12% in); width 6.4 cm (2716 in) 

36.7 



Pen boxes were an essential part of a callig- 
rapher's equipment. In addition to contain- 
ing an ink pot, a pen box would have held 
several carefully made reed plumes, a pair 
of scissors, a knife for shaping the plumes, 
and an assortment of other necessary items. 
The finely worked inlaid decoration of this 
box, with its deft interplay of forms, sug- 
gests how important calligraphy was for 
Majd al-Mulk, the patron of the piece. 
Along the sides of the box an Arabic in- 
scription in animated naskhi is set against a 
scrolling background of animal heads; on 
the lid a less elaborate inscription in naskhi 
surrounds a central field of scrolling animal 
heads. A third inscription, in animated 
kufic, runs along the sides of the lid. The 
animated forms that surge through the 
inscriptions and the scrolls unity the decora- 
tion of the box and link together the 
rhythms of the three inscriptions. The 
inscriptions read: 

Top of the lid (naskhi) 

The most iUustrious excellency, the great, the 
wise, the supported [by God], the triumphant, 
the victorious, Majd al-Mulk, the honor of state 
and religion, the luminous star of Islam and 



Muslims, the chosen among kings and sultans, 
the light of the nation, the splendor of the 
community, the example of the great and the 
perfect, the pillar of dignity, the lord of viziers, 
the king of lieutenants, the possessor of good 
fortune, the minister of Iran, the grand vizier of 
Khorasan, al-Muzaffar, son of the deceased 
vizier Majd al-Mulk, may God multiply 
[increase] his power. 

Side of the lid (animated kufic) 

The work of Shazi, the engraver [or designer], 
in the months of the year seven and six hundred. 

Sides of the base (animated naskhi) 

Glory and prosperity and power and safety and 
health and [God's] care and satisfaction and 
[Muhammad's] intercession and aid and victo- 
riousness and increase [vision of God] and 
thankfulness and gratitude and favor and tran- 
quility and comfort and mercy and increase 
[vision of God] and ahundancy and divine 
support and religiosity and duration and suffi- 
ciency and perpetuity everlasting to its owner. 

Published: Atil 1985, no. 14. 





Islatilic Calligraphy 117 



40 Two Pa^es from a Qur'an 



kufic 

North Africa, 13th century 

ink, color, and gold on parchment 

each leaf: height 16.5 cm (6yi6 in); width 15.5 cm {6V\(, in) 
29.68r-29.69v 



The flowing movement of the script used 
here, with its sweeping curves and slightly 
rounded letters, is characteristic of western, 
or maghribi, kufic. Like eastern kufic (see 
cat. no. 37) this version of the script appears 
to have developed during the ninth century. 
It was used throughout North Africa and 
Spain. Although the Qur'an from which 
these pages come was written on parch- 
ment, by the thirteenth century most 
manuscripts produced in the Muslim world 
were executed on paper. The vertical format 
of the pages, however, is typical of Qur'ans 
copied during this period. The passages 
are from Sura V, "The Food," verses fifteen 
through eighteen. A number of diacritical 
and orthographic marks have been used 
to indicate the proper transcription of each 
word. Diacritical marks and vowels are 
written in brown, the sukun (a consonant 
sign) and the tashdid (a doubling sign) in 
blue, and the hamza (a vowel) and the wash 
are marked as yellow and green dots. 
Normal verse stops are indicated by gold 
knots, and every fifth knot is marked by a 
finely drawn gold leaf. Although the 
various marks and signs are essential to the 
correct rendering of the text, they also 
add to its aesthetic appeal by creating a 
secondary series of patterns that enhance the 
beauty of the calligraphy. 

Published: Atil 1975, no. 7 




29.68r 



118 




Islamic Calligraphy 119 



41 Fragmentary Page from a Qur'an 

muhaqqaq 

Iran, 14th century(?) 
ink and gold on paper 

height 17.8 cm (7 in); width 36.1 cm (i4yi6in) 
45.18 




Written in a bold muhaqqaq script with the 
word Allah in gold, the calligraphy of 
this page is as dramatic as it is strong. The 
text is from Sura III, "The House of Imran," 
verses seventy-nine and eighty: 

Wlioso desires another religion than Islatn, it 
shall 

not be accepted of him; in the next world he shall 

be among the losers. 
How shall God guide a people who have 

disbelieved 

after they believed, and bore witness that the 
Messenger is true, and the clear signs came to 
them? ' 

During the fourteenth century, muhaqqaq, 
like thuluth (see cat. no. 42), was widely 
used throughout the Muslim world, from 
Egypt to India, for the copying of large 
Qur'ans. With its tall slender verticals and 
sweeping sublinear strokes, muhaqqaq is 
at once monumental in its forms and dy- 
namic in its movement. The combination of 



powerful horizontal and vertical letters 
gives the script a grandeur that may explain 
its name, which means "strongly expressed 
or realized." - The page comes from either a 
fourteenth-century Qur'an or, possibly, a 
fifteenth-century one. The result of political 
and social turmoil that followed the collapse 
of the il-Khanid empire (1256-13 53) was 
that few Iranian Qur'ans survive from that 
period. Another fragmentary page from 
this manuscript is in the Library of Con- 
gress.^ 

1. All excerpts from the Qur'an are from Arthur J. 
Arberry's translation. The Korean Interpreted , 2 vols. 
(London and New York: George Allen and Unwin/ 
Macmillan, 1955). 

2. Lings and Safadi 1976, p. 48. 

3. Cons. no. 34. The page in the Library of Congress, 
bought from the same dealer, Kirkor Minassian, as the 
Freer page, may form the lower half of the Freer page. 



120 




detail 



Islatnic Calligraphy 121 



42 Bottle 



thuluth 

Syria, mid- 14th century 

glass decorated in polychrome enamels and gold 
height 49.7 cm (19^16 in); diameter 24.8 cm (9^4 in) 
34.20 



With its elongated neck and flaring body, 
this bottle is both striking and elegant. 
A series of medallions, scrolls, and floral 
designs decorate the piece. Inscribed along 
the widest part of the body in thuluth 
characters is the Arabic phrase, "Glory to 
our master, the sultan, al-Malik, al- 
Mujahid, the wise, the just." Three large 
medallions punctuate the inscription, and 
fine red and gold outlines set it ofli^from the 
blue background of the glass. Thuluth, like 
kufic, was often used for monumental 
inscriptions. Here the long shafts of the alifs 
and the stems of the horizontal characters 
bow slightly, emphasizmg the rounded 
shape of the bottle's body. The subtle 
manipulation of the script's form is typical 
of Islamic calligraphy. The inscription's 



titles refer to al-Malik al-Mujahid Sayf al- 
Din Ah ibn Dawud (r. 1322-63), the Rasu- 
lid ruler of Yemen. 

Published: Atil 1975, no. 74 



detail 




122 





Islamic Calligraphy 123 



43 Page from a Qur'an 



kufic and iiaskhi 

copied by Shadhi ibn Muhammad ibn Ayyub (a.d. 1281-1341/42) 

Egypt, dated Ramadan a.h. 713 (a.d. December 1313) 

ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 

height 34.4 cm {liVie in); width 25.9 cm {10V4 in) 

38.15 



Written in naskhi, with sweeping gold 
letters outlined in black, this page is as 
beautiful as it is bold. It is from the begin- 
ning of Sura XXXII, "Prostration." The 
chapter heading is in kufic against a blue 
ground at the top of the page and reads, 
"Sura [of] the Prostration, thirty verses, 
Mecca." After this is the basmala, the letters 
alif, lam, and mini, and verses one through 
eight and most of nine: 

The sending dowti of the book, wherein no doubt 

is,jrom the lord oj all being. 
Or do they say, "He has forged it?," Say: 
"Not so; it is the truth from thy Lord 
that thou mayest warn a people to whom no 
Warner came before thee, that haply so they may 

be guided." 
God is He that created the heavens and the 

earth, 

and what between them is, in six days, 

then seated himself upon the Throne. 

Apart from Him you have no protector 

neither mediator; will you not remember? 

He directs the affair from heaven to earth, 

then it goes up to him in one day, whose measure 

is 

a thousand years of your counting. 

He is the knower oj the Unseeti and the Visible, 

the All-Mighty, the All-Compassionate , 

who has created all things well. 

And He originated the creation of man out of 

clay, 

then he fashioned his progeny of an extraction of 
mean water, 

then He shaped him, and breathed His spirit in 
him. 

And He appointed for you hearing, and sight, 

and hearts; 
little thanks you show. 

On the verso of the page are the final words 
of the ninth verse, "They say, 'What, when 
we have gone astray in the earth, shall we 
indeed be in a new creation?'" up to the 
beginning of the twenty-first verse. A finely 
drawn medallion with the word Allah 
inscribed in it marks the fifth verse of the 
chapter and acts as a visual counterpoint to 
the brilliant illumination above it. This is 
one of four detached pages from a Qur'an 
now in the Turk ve Islam Eserleri Muzesi in 
Istanbul.' The Qur'an was ordered by the 
Mamluk sultan al-Nasir Muhammad (r. 



1294-95, 1299-1309, 1309-40) and bears an 
elaborate certificate of commissioning that 
reads: 

For the exalted imperial library of Sultan al- 
Malik al-Nasir, may Allah prolong his days and 
unfurl his banners in the East and West, exalt 
his power and make the kings of the earth obey 
his limitless authority.'^ 

According to the manuscript's colophon, 
which is dated Ramadan a.h. 713 (a.d. 
December 13 13), the manuscript was copied 
by Shadhi ibn Muhammad ibn Ayyub, a 
minor Ayyubid prince who was a grandson 
of al-Malik al-Zahir Shadhi. He was born 
in A.D. 1281 and died suddenly in a.d. 
1341-42.^ 

1. MS. 450. Among the other dispersed pages from 
this manuscript are a second page in the Freer Gallery 
(acc. no. 38.32) and a page in the Boston Museum 
of Fine Arts. 

2. As translated by David James m "Some Observations 
on the Calligrapher and Illuminators of the Koran of 
Rukn al-Din Baybars al-Jashnagir," Muqarnas 2 (1984): 
152-53- 

3. Ibid., p. 157, note 25. 



124 



44 Two Pages from a Qur'an 



kufic 

Egypt, late 14th century 
ink, color, and gold on paper 

each leaf: height 32.9 cm (13 '/s in); width 24.8 cm {gWu, in) 
48.9r-32. IV 




This double frontispiece to one of the 
sections of the Qur'an is decorated with 
gold flowers, medallions, and trefoil-shaped 
ornaments against a deep brown and blue 
ground. The three lines of kufic on each 



page are written in white and outlined in 
gold. They are from verses seventy-five 
through seventy-seven (on the right) and 
seventy-eight through eighty (on the left) of 
Sura LVI, "Terror": 



M).' / swear by the fallings of the stars 
(and that is indeed a mighty oath, did you hut 
know it) 

it is surely a noble Koran in a hidden Book 

none but the purified shall touch, 

a sending down from the Lord oj all Being. 



126 




These verses, which describe the Qur'an's 
sacredncss, are among the most popular in 
the book. The pages' richly patterned 
surface provides the perfect counterpoint to 
the majestic words of the text. The linking 
of text and design, pattern and calligraphy. 



is a device used to emphasize critical parts 
of the manuscript while creating a feeling of 
sumptuousness that is consistent with the 
divine character of the book. 

Published: Atil 1975, no. 43. 



Islamic Calligraphy 127 



45 Khusrau u Shirin ofNizami 



kufic and nastaliq 

copied by Mir Ali ibn Hasan al-Sultani (ca. 13 40-1 420) 
Tabriz, ca. 1 410-15 

ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 

with six miniatures (one of which was added during the sixteenth century) 
per foho: height 18.3 cm (y'/t in); width 12.7 cm (5 in) 
31^ 29; illustrated: folio iv 




The pages of this copy of Khusrau u Shirin, 
originally composed by Nizam ad-Din Abu 
Muhammad Ilyas Nizami in 11 80, and 
now set into gold-flecked margins, arc 
among the tew examples of writing that can 
be confidently linked to Mir Ali ibn Hasan 
al-Sultani (also known as Mir Ali al-Tabrizi) 
who is credited with inventing nastaliq. The 
colophon of the manuscript, which is 
partially destroyed, reads: 

Blessing and peace on the prophet and, . . . and 
on all mortals, and on the soul of the wonder of 
the age Shaikh Auhad al-Din Nizami ofGanja 
all glory and honor. Copied by the slave, the 
asker for divine pardon from God, Ali ibn 
Hasan al-Sultani in . . . the capital city of 
Tabriz may God make it great. Completed by 
the grace of God the most high with affection 
and . . . 

Although the date of the manuscript's 
completion has been lost, it can be attrib- 
uted to around 1410-15, when Tabriz was 
under Timurid (i 370-1 506) control, on the 
basis of its five contemporary miniatures,' 
which are extremely close in style to some 
ot the paintings in two anthologies prepared 
for Iskandar Mirza in 1410-11.- According 
to legend, Mir All al-Sultani (who lived 
from around 1340 to 1420) had a dream 
about flying geese interpreted for him by 
All (the fourth caliph and the prophet's 
cousin, foster brother, and son-in-law), that 



inspired him to perfect a new manner of 
writing-^ based on a combination of naskh 
and taliq. The relationship between Mir Ali 
and Ali, though obviously imaginary, was 
considered precternal by such writers as 
Qadi Ahmad'* and may explain the subject 
matter of the sixteenth-century miniature 
that was added to the manuscript. The 
painting depicts a "sacred conversation" 
between the prophet Muhammad and AH 
alluding, perhaps, to Ali's "conversation" 
with Mir Ali. The distinguishing features of 
Mir AH's calligraphy are the minuteness of 
his hand and the forward flow of his letters. 
Shapes have been manipulated (especially 
the shafts of such characters as alifs, sins, 
and shins) to develop patterns of emphasis 
that draw the reader to critical parts of the 
text.^ Variations in width give Mir Ali's 
letters an elasticity and resonance that are 
unprecedented. The dynamism of Mir Ali's 
nastaliq contrasts to the more static kufic of 
the illuminated heading ot the page to 
create a vibrant play ot forms. Through 
students such as Jatar al-Tabrizi, who 
worked for the Timurid prince Baysuiighur 
between 1421 and 1433, nastaliq became 
the predominant script used tor the copying 
of manuscripts in fifteenth- and sixteenth- 
century Iran. 

1. The date of this manuscript has been the subject ot a 
great deal of scholarly debate. A slightly earlier date tor 
it has recently been suggested by Basil Gray in his 



article "The History of Miniature Painting: The 
Fourteenth Century" in Gray 1979, p. 117. 

2. These are now in the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian 
(L.A. 161) and the British Library (Or. 27 261). 

3. Schimmel 1984, p. 29. 

4. Ahmad 1959, p. 116. 

5. The dynamics of Mir Ali's calligraphy are discussed 
at length by Priscilla Soucek in her article "The Arts of 
Calligraphy" in Gray 1979, pp. 23-24. 



128 



-^'V ""^^i. . -'^ ,,.r • 



1 «K' 



\ ♦ I * . 



• . . . • 

• « «« ,» 



i /• 



IC«»CXHJfTOW»>t*«MMCTO«KTf»»I>r 



• • • 



I * ' * i 




IsldfHic Calligraphy 129 



46 Three Manuscripts Bound in One Volume 



kufic and nastaliq 

copied by Shah Mahmud al-Nishapuri and SaHm al-Katib 
Iran, ca. 1523 

ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 

per page: height 26. i cm (ioyi6 in); width 16.3 cm {6V\f, in) 

37.35; illustrated: folios iv and 28r 



The three manuscripts contained in this 
volume (folios 1-8 recto; 9 verso-28 recto; 
and 23 verso-28 recto) are all poetical texts. 
On folio 8 recto of the first manuscript is a 
colophon signed by Shah Mahmud al- 
Nishapuri and dated A.H.930 (a.d. 1523). A 
second colophon, on folio 28 recto of the 
third manuscript, indicates that it was 
copied by Salim al-Katib. Shah Mahmud al- 
Nishapuri was one of the leading calligra- 
phers of the Safavid period (i 501-1786). 
Born in Nishapur, he entered Shah Ismail's 
(r. 1501-24) service in Tabriz before work- 
ing for Shah Tahmasp (r. 1524-76).' He was 
noted for his mastery oi nastaliq, the script 
used in the copying of all of the manuscripts 
bound in the volume. A pupil of Maulana 
Abdi, Shah Mahmud was given the honor- 
ific zarrin qalam ("golden pen") and was 
considered by many equal to the great 
nastaliq masters Sultan Ali and Mir Ali. 
During the mid-i540s, when Shah Tahmasp 
began to lose interest in calligraphy and 
painting, he moved to Mashhad, where he 
lived on the upper floor of a madrasah 
known as the qadam gah-i hadrat-i imam 
(arrival place of the holy imam), until his 
death in 1564-65.- Salim al-Katib, the 
calligrapher of the third manuscript in the 
volume, was a pupil of Shah Mahmud.^ 
The son of an Abyssinian, he lived in 
Mashhad and was noted for his colored 
writing {rang nivisi) and tunereal epitaphs. 
According to Huart, he died in 1582-83.'' 

The pages of the manuscripts written by 
Shah Mahmud and Salim al-Katib have 
been carefully sprinkled with gold dust and 
set in margins of diiicrcnt colors that are 
either covered wtih large gold flecks or 
marbleizcd. Shah Mahmud, writing in 
black ink against a rich cream-colored 
paper, creates small, perfectly formed 
characters that are almost laserlikc in their 
precision. The fineness of his lines are 
repeated in the blue and gold illuminations 
that surround his couplets. Salim al-Katib's 
verses, unlike his master's, are written in a 
white ink against a deep-green background. 
His calligraphy is more open and rounded 
than Shah Mahmud's and flows across each 
page in large, sweeping curves. 

1. Ahmad 1959, pp. 134-38. 

2. Ibid., p. 152. It IS possible, however, that this date is 
incorrect as there are several manuscripts apparently 
copied by Shah Mahmud that have colophons later than 




28r 



A.H. 1564-65 (such as a Chihil Kalima, now in the Turk 
ve Islam Eserleri Muzesi in Istanbul, which is dated 

A.H. 1574-75). 

3. Ibid. 

4. C. Huart, Les C^alligraphcs el /« Mitiiaturistcs de 
I'Orietil Muiubnan (Paris: Ernest Leroux, Editeur, 1908), 
p. 234. 




IV 



Islamic Calligraphy 131 



47 Binding to a Qur'an 



nastaliq 

Iran, ca. 1 530-40 

opaque watcrcolors and gold on leather stretched over pasteboard 
height 37.5 cm (14% in); width (per panel) 24.6 cm (9"/i(. in) 
34-17 





mm 



With its extensive gilding, tooling, and 
filigree work this binding is among the fin- 
est book covers produced during the reign 
of Shah Tahmasp (r. 1524-76). Indeed, only 
the cover tor Shah Tahmasp s Shahnama (hg. 
16) can rival this piece for the sumptuous- 
ness of Its finish and the quality of the 
workmanship.' The outside ot the binding 
was made by cutting depressions for the 
central field and border areas in the card- 
board support and then tilling the areas 
with paste. Leather was then stretched over 
the entire surface of the board, and thin 
gold sheets were laid over this. Hot metal 
stamps, incised with scrolling designs and 
Qur'anic inscriptions, were then applied to 
the surface to fuse the gold to the leather 
and create the raised patterns. The surface 
was then refined; the edges of the forms 
rendered in relief were sharpened and the 
flowers were painted in. 

The inside of the cover has also been 
extensively worked. In addition to emboss- 
ing, large areas of this part of the cover have 
been decorated with colored paper overlaid 
with designs cut out of gilded leather. The 
result of this treatment is a jewel-like surface 
that is as opulent as it is dazzling. Around 
the outside of each of the covers, written in 



a fine nastaliq, is the "Throne Verse," one 
of the most moving passages in the Qur'an, 
which reads: 

God 

there is no God hut He, the living, the 

Everlasting. 
Slumber seizes Him not, neither sleep; to Him 

belongs 

all that is in the heavens and the earth. 

Wlio is there that shall intercede with Him save 

by His leave? 
He knows what lies before them and what is 

after them, 
and they comprehend not anything of His 

knowledge save such as He wills. 
His Throne comprises the heavens and earth; 
the preserving of them oppresses Him not; 
He is the All-high, the All-glorious. 

A portion of the verse is also repeated on 
the inside of the covers; on the back of the 
hinge, writen in gold, are two more 
Qur'anic inscriptions: "Let none touch it 
but the purified!" and "A revelation trom 
the Lord of the Worlds." 

I. Dickson and Welch 19K1, vol. 2, pis. 262 and 263. 




Fig. 16. Leather binding, han, ci. i_S30. Artluir 
M. Houghton Collection. 



detail 

Islamic Calligraphy 133 



48 Calligraphic Page 



nastaliq 

by Mir Ali (d. 1556) 

Bukhara, dated a.h. 940 (a.d. 1533-34) 

opaque watercolor and gold on paper 

height 38.8 cm (151/4 in); width 25.7 cm {loVv, in) 

48.28r 



This page comes from an album known as 
the Kevorkian album, named after the 
dealer responsible for its dispersal during 
the second quarter of this century. Now 
divided between the Freer Gallery of Art 
(which has nine pages) and the Metropolitan 
Museum of Art (which has forty-one pages 
and the covers), the album appears to have 
been assembled for the Mughal emperor 
Shah Jahan (r. 1628-57).' On the verso of 
this page is a portrait of Jahangir (r. 1605- 
27) inscribed to Abu'l Hasan.- The four 
verses of writing on this page can be trans- 
lated as follows: 

Wlien Mirza Khwajagi, that Asaf of the Age, 
Constructed such a noble edifice, 
The teacher "Wisdom" said for its date, 
"A wonderful, beautiful and fine mosque." 

Composed and written by the needy Mir Ali, 
may Allah cover his defects? 

The numerical equivalent of " 'A wonder- 
ful, beautiful and fine mosque,'" is 940, 
which corresponds to the date a.h. 940 
(a.d. 1533-34) written at the bottom of the 
inscription. Mir Ali, also known as Mir 
Ali al-Husayni, was one of the Mughals's 
favorite calligraphers, and they continously 
sought examples of his writing. The long, 
sweeping curves of the nastaliq used here, 
and the sharp, almost explosive flourishes 
of the endings of certain letters such as nuns 
( (J ) and sins ) are typical of Mir Ali's 
work. The calligraphy has been surrounded 
by a brilliant gold background decorated 
with scrolling flowers and flying birds. A 
fine red line separates the dark, bluish gray 
paper of the calligraphy from the gold 
ground, creating a vivid outline that en- 
hances the flowing movement of the letters. 
The background, with its finely drawn 
flowers and realistically rendered birds, ap- 
pears to have been added at the Mughal 
court — probably during the late sixteenth 
or early seventeenth century, when this kind 
of work was typical"* — as 
an embellishment to the page.^ 



1. For more information on the provenance and history 
of this album, see Beach 1981, pp. 177-92. 

2. Illustrated in ibid., p. 184. 

3. I am grateful to Ibrahim Pourhadi of the Library of 
Congress and to Z. A. Desai for their help in translat- 
ing these verses. 

4. This kind of background can be seen in such manu- 
scripts as a copy of the Gulistaii of Sadi dated 1582-83, 
now in the collection of the Royal Asiatic Society of 
Great Britain (a page of which is published in color in 
Michael Brand and Glenn D. Lowry, Akhar's India: Art 
from the Mughal City of Victory [New York: Asia Society, 
1985], p. 66). 

5. Although It is also possible that this work is contem- 
porary with the calligraphy, its lines often run over the 
"margin," separating the writing from the background, 
which suggests that it is a later addition. Moreover, 
although there are precedents in mid-sixteenth-century 
Iranian painting for the naturalism of the birds, rarely 
are birds more than minor details in the overall design. 




Islamic Calligraphy 135 



49 Haft Manzar of Hatifi 



nastaliq 

copied by Mir Ali (d. 1556) for Abd al-Aziz Bahadur Khan (r. 1534-39) 

Bukhara, dated a. h. 944 (a.d. 1538) 

ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 

with a double frontispiece and two miniatures inscribed to Shaykh Zadeh 
per page: height 25.9 cm (ioyi6 in); width 16.2 cm (dYs in) 
56.14; illustrated: folios 3v-4r 



Hatifi was the pseudonym used by Abdallah 
Jami (d. 1520-21), the nephew of the 
celebrated poet Abdur Rahman Jami. Hati- 
fi 's Haft Manzar (Seven Visages) was com- 
posed as part of a "Quintet" inspired by the 
Khamsa of the early thirteenth-century 
poet Nizami.' On folio 3 recto is an elabo- 
rate inscription by Shahjahan (r. 1628-57), 
the fifth Mughal ruler of India, indicating 
that the manuscript entered his library 
on the eighth of Jumada II, a.h. 1037 (a.d. 
February 14, 1628), the day of his accession 
to the throne, and was valued at tour 
thousand rupees. Abu'l Ghazi Sultan Abd 
al-Aziz Bahadur, the patron of the manu- 
script, was the fourth Shaybanid ruler of 
Transoxiana. Under the Shaybanids (1500- 
1598), Bukhara became a major cultural 
center that attracted many Safavid artists 
such as Shaykh Zadeh. In 1528-29, when 
Herat was captured by the Shaybanids, Mir 
Ali was taken to Bukhara, where he worked 
until his death. According to the colophon, 
the manuscript was produced under the 
supervision of Sultan Mirak, the head of 
Abd al-Aziz's library, who "trained, theo- 
retically and practically, calligraphers and 
painters to a level beyond description."- 
Considered one of the greatest caUigraphers 
of his age, Mir Ali was especially renown 
for his mastery o( nastaliq. Despite his 
prolific work under the Shaybanids (see cat. 
no. 48), he was extremely unhappy in 
Bukhara and even went so far as to record 
his thoughts in writing: 

A long life of exercise bent my body like a harp, 
Until the handwriting of this unjortiinate one 

had become of such a canon 
That all the kings of the world sought me out, 

whereas 

In Bukhara, for means of existence, my liver is 

steeped in blood 
My entrails have been burnt up by sorrow. Wliat 

am I to do? 
How shall I manage? 
For I have no way out of this town, 
This misfortune has fallen on my head for the 

beauty of my writing. 
Alas! Mastery in calligraphy has become a chain 

on 

the feet of this demented one.-^ 



1. Browne 1928, vol. 4, p. 229. 

2. Khwaja Hasan Nisari as quoted by M. M. Ashrafi- 
Aini in his article "The School of Bukhara" in Gray 
1979, p. 268. 

3. Ahmad 1959, pp. 130-31. 



overleaf: full view, cat. no. 49 



136 




detail, 3V 



Islamic Calligraphy 



137 




Islamic Calligraphy 139 



fc 





Islamic Calligraphy 139 



50 Calligraphic Page 



tarassul 

by Kamal al-Din (d. a.d. 1556-57) 

Herat, dated Ramadan a.h. 959 (a.d. August-September 1551) 
opaque watercolor and gold on paper 
height 22.8 cm (9 in); width 13.4 cm (5yi6 in) 
29.64 



This is one of three pages in the Freer 
Gallery signed by Kamal al-Din,' a six- 
teenth-century Iranian calligrapher. The 
looping connections of the long vertical 
letters (such as lam and alif) and the stag- 
gered placement of the words are typical of 
a type of writing known as tarassul, which is 
one of the taliq, or "hanging," scripts. The 
curved alignment of the verses accentuates 
the script's dense appearance. By using a 
combination of white, yellow, and blue 
inks, Kamal al-Din has added another 
element of complexity to the script's inher- 
ently animated character. The result is a 
dramatic interweaving of line, color, and 
form. Kamal al-Din was a native of Herat 
who lived for some time in Qum before 
entering Shah Tahmasp's service in Tabriz. 
He was known for his mastery of the six 
traditional scripts (see p. 103), diluting of 
lapis lazuli, and reading of the Qur'an. 
A humble dervish, he refused the many 
presents (which included, among other 
items, a tent, a horse, and a camel) that the 
shah tried to bestow on him.- He must, 
however, have been proud of the title he 
received from the shah, "Ikhtiyar al-Munshi 
al-Sultani," for he used this, or a variation 
of this, on all of the pages in the Freer's 
collection. At some point before his death 
in 1556-57, he returned to Herat, for he has 
stated on this page that it was executed 
there. The text, in heavily Arabicized 
Persian, is an address filled with good 
wishes for a high-ranking personality. 

1. The others are 29.63 and 29.65. 

2. Ahmad 1959, p. 152. 



140 



5 1 Haft Awrang of Jami 



nastaliq 

copied by Malik al-Dailami, Muhibb Ali, Shah Mahmud al-Nishapuri, 
Aishi ibn Ishrati, and Rustam AH for Sultan Ibrahim Mirza 
Iran, 1556-65 

ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 
with twenty-eight miniatures 

per page: height 34.2 cm (13V2 in); width 23.2 cm (yVs in) 
46.12; illustrated: folio 20r 



This copy of Abdur Rahman Jami's Haft 
Awrang (Seven Thrones) is one of the most 
sumptuous Persian manuscripts ever pro- 
duced. Each of its pages, written by the 
leading calligraphers of the Safavid court, is 
elaborately worked. The illuminations and 
miniatures that accompany the text are as 
dazzling as the calligraphy, and though none 
of the paintings is signed, several of them 
can be attributed to Shaykh Muhammad, 
Muzaffar Ali, and Mirza Ali, who were 
among the most important artists active in 
Iran during the second half of the sixteenth 
century.' Sultan Ibrahim Mirza, the patron 
of the manuscript, was a nephew of Shah 
Tahmasp (r. 1524-76), who made him the 
governor of Mashhad in 1556 and permitted 
him to marry one of his daughters. An 
accomplished calligrapher and poet, Sultan 
Ibrahim maintained in Mashhad an exten- 
sive library (kitabkhana). The Haft Awrang 
has eight colophons stating that it was 
copied in three cities — Mashhad (colophons 
one, four, and five), Qazvin (colophon 
three), and Herat (colophon seven) — over a 
period of nine years beginning in October 
1556 and ending on May 2, 1565. A ninth 
colophon would probably have been found 
on the now-missing final page.-^ Malik al- 
Dailami, who copied the first and third 
sections of the manuscript, was a native of 
Qazvin and excelled in writing all six of the 
standard scripts. He was originally attached 
to Shah Tahmasp's library, but sometime 
in the 1550s was appointed by the shah to 
Sultan Ibrahim Mirza's studio. He accompa- 
nied Ibrahim Mirza to Mashhad in 1556- 
57, but was ordered by Shah Tahmasp 
to return to Qazvin a year and a half later.^ 
He remained in Qazvin until his death in 
1561-62. Muhibb Ali, Sultan Ibrahim's 
librarian, copied the fourth and eighth 
sections of the manuscript. He was noted 
for his ability to write in either a minuscule 
or large hand. Shah Mahmud al-Nishapuri 
(see cat. no. 46) was responsible for the fifth 
part of the manuscript. The sixth section of 
the text was copied by Aishi ibn Ishrati, a 
native of Herat who wrote in the manner of 
Sultan Muhammad Nur. He worked in 
Sultan Ibrahim's library in Mashhad. Rus- 
tam Ali, who copied the seventh section of 
the manuscript, was a nephew of the great 



Timurid painter Bihzad. He was employed 
by Bahram Mirza, Sultan Ibrahim's father, 
before joining the latter in Mashhad, where 
he died in 1562-63."* The nastaliq used by 
these masters in the copying of the text 
is remarkable for its uniform high quality 
and brilliant control of line. 

1. For more information on the painters of the Hafl 
Awrang, see Dickson and Welch 198 1, vol. i, pp. 129- 
69. 

2. For a detailed discussion of the manuscript's produc- 
tion, see Marianna Shreve Simpson, "The Production 
and Patronage of the Haft Awrang by Jami in the Freer 
Gallery of Art," Ars Orientalis 13 (1982): 93-1 11. 

3. This move, occasioned by the shah's desire to have 
Malik al-Dailami do the inscriptions for his newly con- 
structed daulatkhana, occurred while he was in the 
midst of copying the third section of the manuscript. 

4. Ahmad 1959, pp. 141-44, 147, and 153-54. 



142 




Islamic Calligraphy 143 



52 Page from an Album ofjahangir 



nastaliq 

India, ca. 1600 

ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 
height 42.5 cm {\6Va in); width 26.6 cm {10V2 in) 
54. I i6r 



This page once formed part of an album 
assembled for Nur al-Din Jahangir (r. 1605- 
27), the fourth Mughal ruler of India.' The 
borders, which depict artisans of a library at 
work, were painted at the beginning of the 
seventeenth century; the calligraphic panel 
in the center of the page can be attributed to 
sixteenth-century Iran. Beginning at the 
upper left and moving counterclockwise, 
the borders show a burnisher smoothing 
and polishing paper, a stamper creating 
designs in a leather cover, a sizer trimming 
the leaves of a manuscript, a woodworker 
sawing a bookstand, a gilder preparing gold 
leaf, and a calligrapher writing. Another 
folio from this album (fig. 17), now in the 
Staatsbibhothek fiir Preussicher Kulturbes- 
itz. West Berlin, also depicting artisans of 
a library, probably formed its facing page.- 
Pasted onto the sides of the panel of callig- 
raphy is an attribution to Mir Ali al-Sultani 
(ca. 1 340-1420), one of the great Iranian 
masters of nastaliq. The verses can be trans- 
lated as follows:^ 

Pir-i Herat says, 
"Don't eat anyone else's bread 
And do not withhold your bread from anyone 
And don't be afraid of being a dervish [i.e., 
poor]. 

Know that the Bestower is God. 

Eat that which God has granted yoti, because 

It will never diminish. 

Consider the little one you have 

Better than the much others possess.'"* 

Although this piece is attributed to Mir Ah 
al-Sultani, it seems much closer to the 
writing of the sixteenth-century calligrapher 
Mir Ali al-Husayni, whose work was 
passionately collected by the Muhgals — a 
practice that made them easy targets for 
unscrupulous merchants. Their interest in 
his work undoubtedly stems from the time 
of Zahir ad-Din Muhammad Babur, the 
founder of the dynasty, in whose honor Mir 
Ali composed such poems as the following: 

You are the leader of the century and the head of 

all the Homeless, 
You are the valorous Khaqan and the Khidr oj 

the times. 

After your writings there is no longer in the 
universe 

Any other compendium of ideas, O Shah of the 
kingdom of letters.^ 



Although it is often difficult to distin- 
guish between genuine and spurious works 
by Mir Ali, the open, almost loose manner 
of the calligraphy on this page, with its 
heavy letters, is quite different from the 
tight, carefully controlled writing of the 
Haft Manzar (cat. no. 49) and from the 
calligraphic page signed and dated by him 
also in this exhibition (cat. no. 48). 

1. Three major groups ofjahangir album pages and 
several dispersed pages are known. The majority 

of pages are in the former Imperial Library in Tehran; a 
second group is now in the Staatsbibhothek fur 
Preussicher Kulturbesitz, West Berlin; and a third series 
was recently in a private collection in Tehran. For 
more on Jahangir's albums, see Beach 1981, p. 156. 

2. Fol. 1 8a is published in Ernst Kuhnel and Hermann 
Goetz, Indische Buchmalereien aus dem Jahangir- Album der 
Slaaisbiblioihek zu Berlin (Berlin: Scarabaeus Verlag, 
1924), p. 20. 

3. Z. A. Desai has noted that this verse is from the 
Munajat of Abu Ismail Abdallah Ansari of Herat who 
lived from 1006 to 1088. For more on this poet, see 
Browne 1928, vol. 2, pp. 269-70. 

4. 1 am grateful to Annemarie Schimmel of Harvard 
University for her help with this translation. 

5. Ahmad 1959, p. 129. 

Published: Beach 1981, no. i6b; Atil 1978, no. 63. 




Fig. 17. Illuminated page of calligraphy from 
the Berlin Jahangir Album (assembled ca. 1608- 
18). Berlin, Staatsbibliothek fur Preussicher 
Kulturbesitz, fol. i8a. 



144 




Islamic Calligraphy 145 



53 Rectangular Plaque 



naskhi 

Iran, i6th century 

steel cut from forged sheet and pierced 

height 7.8 cm (3'/i6 in); length 27.0 cm (10^16 in) 

39-45 




Although only a fragment of a larger piece, 
this plaque is a visual tour de force. Its 
composition, which consists of a scrolling 
pattern of blossoms and flowers, and two 
cartouches containing Arabic inscriptions in 
naskhi, appears simple but is extremely 
complicated. The arabesques of the scrolls, 
for instance, expand and contract depending 
upon the words inscribed over them. In a 
similar manner the scrolling between the 
cartouches is denser than it is inside them. 
The result is that the inscription ("Oh 
reviver of the dead/ Accord your protection 
to the prince/ Verily how excellent [is] the 
reviver") seems to be caught in a web of 
vines and tendrils that emphasize the dy- 
namic movement of the letters. The inscrip- 
tion's references to death and resurrection 
suggest that the plaque may have once been 
used in a funerary context. 

Published: Atil 1985, no. 29 



146 



54 Circular Ornament 



naskhi 

Iran, late i6th to early 17th century 

steel cut from forged sheet and hammered; pierced and overlaid with gold 

diameter 4.7 cm (I' Vie in) 

40.9 



This boldly patterned ornament is made up 
of contrasts in terms ot both its colors and 
its design. The brilliant gold overlays that 
outline the edges of the ornament and make 
up the inscription are set against the dark- 
ness of the steel; the flowing naskhi charac- 
ters of the Arabic inscription appear to float 
against the tightly scrolhng arabesques of 
the background. The inscription, "In the 
name of God, the Compassionate, the 
Merciful," known as the basmala, is a pious 
invocation that could have been used in 
either a secular or religious context. 

Published: Atil 1985, no. 30 




Islamic Calligraphy 147 



55 Firman of Sultan Ahmed II 



divani 

Turkey, dated the I2th ofjumada II a.h. 1105 (a.d. February 8, 1694) 
ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper 
height 164 cm (64'/2 in); width 48 cm (19 in) 
Gift of the Honorable and Mrs. George McGhee 
1985. 16 



This hrman, or imperial edict, was issued 
by Sultan Ahmed II (r. 1691-95) to Mehmed 
Remi Pasha, an official ot his court. At the 
top of the hrman, in the middle ot a flaming 
halo of golden tendrils, is the sultan's tughra, 
or monogram, which reads, "Ahmed ibn 
Ibiahim Han el-Muzaffer Daima." Below 
this, written in fine divani, or court, script 
on a gold-sprinkled ground with alternating 
passages in black and gold inks, is the text 
of the firman that grants Mehmed Remi 
Pasha lands in the district of Sarmin in the 
province of Aleppo.' According to the 
firman, Mehmed Remi Pasha possessed a 
grant of income from Havin in Biga Prov- 
ince worth 22,055 ^fe'^f ^nd was wounded 
and crippled while in the service of the 
royal court at Belgrade. The lands that he 
received in this firman, which superseded 
his previous grant, had an annual income of 
223,180 akce, of which Mehmed Remi 
Pasha was allowed to keep one hundred 
thousand; the rest was to be remitted to the 
royal treasury. There is a note on the firman 
that Mustafa II (r. 1695-1703), Sultan 
Ahmed's successor, reconhrmed the grant 
in 1694-95. Although Sultan Ahmed's rule 
was short, it is clear from both the quality 
of the script and the drawing of his tughra 
that he had access to many of the great 
court artists who had worked for his prede- 
cessors. 

I. I am grateful to Dr. Christopher Murphy of the 
Library of Congress for his translation of this docu- 
ment. 





detail, opposite 



148 



Selected Bibliography with Abbreviations 



Chinese Calligraphy 



Japanese Calligraphy 



Ch'en Chih-mai. Chinese Calligraphers atid Their 
Art. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press; 
London and New York: Cambridge University 
Press, 1966. 

Chiang Yee. Chinese Callii;raphy: An Introduction 
to Its Aesthetic and Technique. 3d rev. ed. Cam- 
bridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1973. 

Tseng 1971 Ecke, Tseng Yu-ho. Chinese Calligraphy. Philadel- 
phia: Philadelphia Museum of Art and Boston 
Book and Art, 1971. 

Fu, Shen C. Y. Traces of the Brush: Studies in 
Chinese Calligraphy. New Haven, Conn.: Yale 
University Art Gallery, 1977. 

Fu and Nakata Fu, Shen C. Y., and Nakata Yiajiro. Obei shuzo 

1981-83 chugoku hosho meiseki shtl (Masterpieces of Chinese 
calligraphy in American and European collec- 
tions). 6 vols. [Vols. 5 and 6: Ming Qing (i) and 
(2)]. Tokyo: Chuo koronsha, 1981-83. 

Hakubutsukan zuhan mokuroku: Chugoku shocki hen 
(Illustrated catalogues of the Tokyo National 
Museum: Chinese calligraphy). Tokyo: Tokyo 
Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan, 1980. 

Ku-kung fa-shu. 21 vols. Taipei: Kuo-li ku-kung 
po-wu-yuan, 1962-68. 

Ku-kung po-wu-yuan ts'ang li-tai fa-shu hsuan-chi. 
Peking: Wenwu, 1963 and 1977. 

Lawton 1973 Lawton, Thomas. Chinese Figure Painting. Wash- 
ington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian 
Institution, 1973. 

Ledderose 1979 Ledderose, Lothar. Mi Fu and the Classical Tradition 
of Chinese Calligraphy. Princeton, N.J.: Prniceton 
University Press, 1979. 

Nakata 1983 Nakata Yujiro, ed. Chinese Calligraphy. Translated 
and adapted by Jeffrey Hunter. New York and 
Tokyo: John Weatherhill, 1983. 

Shang-hai po-wu-kuan ts'ang li-tai fa-shu hsuan-chi. 
Shanghai: New China Press, 1964. 

Shodd geijutsu Shodo geijutsu. 24 vols. Tokyo: Chuokoron Sha, 
1970-73. 

Shodd zenshu Shodo zenshu. New series, 26 vols. Tokyo: Hei- 
bonsha, 1954-68. 

Shoseki meihin sokan. 208 vols. Tokyo: Nigensha, 
1969-80. 

Wong, Kwan S. Masterpieces of Sung and Yuan 
Dynasty Calligraphy from the John M. Crawford Jr. 
Collection. New York: China Institute in America, 
1981. 



Addiss 1978 



Fontein and 
Hickman 
1970 

FGA 11: Japan 1974 



FGA Handbook 1976 

Hempel 1983 
Komatsu 1981 
Komatsu 1970 
Kyusojin 1966 



McCullough 1985 



Murray 1979 



NKBT 



Nakata 1973 



Rosenfield, 
Cranston, and 
Cranston 1973 



Shimada 1969 

Shimada, 
Akiyama, and 
Yamane 1979-81 



Addiss, Stephen, with Kwan S. Wong. Obaku: 
Zen Painting and Calligraphy. Lawrence, Kans.: 
Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art, Uni- 
versity of Kansas, 1978. 

Armbruster, Gisela, and Helmut Brinker, eds. 
Brush and Ink: The Heinz Gotze Collection. Trans- 
lated by Barbara Cook and Patricia L. Victorson. 
New York: Paragon, 1976. 

Fontein, Jan, and Money Hickman. Zen Painting 
and Calligraphy. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 
1970. 

Freer Gallery of Art. The Freer Gallery of Art II: 
Japan. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1974. 

Freer Gallery of Art. Masterpieces of Chinese and 
Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art Handbook. 
Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, Smith- 
sonian Institution, 1976. 

Hempel, Rose. The Golden Age of Japan 7g4-iig2. 
New York: Rizzoli International, 1983. 

Komatsu Shigemi. Kan'ei no sampitsu. Vol. 10 of 
Nihon no sho. Tokyo: Chuo koronsha, 1981. 

. Nihon shoryil zenshi. 2 vols. Tokyo: 

Kodansha, 1970. 

Kyusojin Hitaku. Nishi Honganfi-bon Sanfuroku- 
ninshu seisei. Tokyo: Kazama shobo, 1966. 

Library of Congress and Yomiun Shimbun, eds. 
Words in Motion: Modern Japanese Calligraphy. 
Tokyo: Yomiuri Shimbun, 1984. 

McCullough, Helen Craig. Kokin wakashu: The 
First Imperial Anthology oj Japanese Poetry. Stan- 
ford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 1985. 

Murray, Julia K. A Decade of Discovery : Selected 
Acquisitions, igjo-igSo. Washington, D.C.: Freer 
Gallery ot Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1979. 

Nihon koten bungaku taikei. 100 vols. Tokyo: 
Iwanami shoten, 1957-67. 

Nakata Yujiro. The Art of Japanese Calligraphy. 
Translated by Alan Woodhull in collaboration 
with Armins Nikovskis. New York and Tokyo: 
Weatherhill/Heibonsha, 1973. 

Rosenfield, John M., Fumiko E. Cranston, and 
Edwin A. Cranston. The Courtly Tradition in 
Japanese Art and Literature: Selections from the Hofer 
and Hyde Collections. Cambridge, Mass.: Fogg Art 
Museum, Harvard University, 1973. 

Shimada Shujiro, ed. Zaigai hiho. 3 vols. Tokyo: 
Gakken, 1969. 

Shimada Shujiro, Akiyama Terukazu, and Ya- 
mane Yuzo, eds. Zaigai Nihon no shiho. 10 vols. 
Tokyo: Mainichi shimbun, 1979-81. 



150 



Shimizu 1983 



Shimizu and 
Rosenfield 1984 



Shimizu, Yoshiaki. "Calligraphy." Kodaiisha 
Encyclopedia of Japan, vol. i, pp. 232—36. Tokyo: 
Kodansha, 1983. 

Shimizu, Yoshiaki, and John M. Rosenfield. 
Masters of Japanese Calligraphy: Eighth through 
Nineteenth Centuries. New York: Asia Society 
Galleries and Japan House Gallery, 1984. 

Shodd zenshii. Old series, 27 vols. Tokyo: Heibon- 
sha, 1930-32; new series, 26 vols. Tokyo: Hei- 
bonsha, 1954-68. 

Tokyo National Museum. Nihon no sho. Tokyo: 
Tokyo National Museum, 1978. 



Islamic Calligraphy 



Abbott 1939 
Ahmad 1959 



Atil 1973 



Atil 1975 



Atil 1978 



Atil, Chase, andjett 
1985 



Beach 1981 

Browne 1928 

Dickson and Welch 
1981 

Ettinghausen 1974 



Abbott, Nabia. The Rise of North Arabic Script. 
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939. 

Ahmad, Qadi. Calligraphers and Painters: A 
Treatise by Qadi Ahmad, Son of Mir-Munshi. Trans- 
lated by V. Minorsky with an introduction by 
B. N. Zakhoder. Freer Gallery of Art Occasional 
Papers, vol. 3, no. 2. Washington, D.C.; Freer 
Gallery ot Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1959. 

Atil, Esin. Ceramics from the World of Islam. 
Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, Smith- 
sonian Institution, 1973. 

. Art of the Arab World. Washington, D.C.: 

Freer Gallery ot Art, Smithsonian Institution, 
1975- 



. The Brush of the Masters: Drawings from 

Iran and India. Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of 
Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1978. 

Atil, Esin, W. T. Chase, and Pauljett. Islamic 
Metalwork in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington, 
D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the 
Freer Gallery of Art, 1985. 

Beach, Milo. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the 
Mughal Court. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian 
Institution Press tor the Freer Gallery ot Art, 
1981. 

Browne, Edward G. A Literary History of Persia. 4 
vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 
1928. 

Dickson, Martin B., and Stuart Cary Welch. The 
Houghton Shahnameh. 2 vols. Cambridge, Mass.: 
Harvard University Press, 198 1. 

Ettinghausen, Richard. "Arabic Epigraphy: 
Communication or Symbolic Atlirmation." Near 
Eastern Numismatics, Iconography, Epigraphy and 
History. Edited by D. K. Kouymijian. Beirut: 
American University ot Beirut, 1974. 



Gray 1979 Gray, Basil, ed. The Arts of the Book of Central 
Asia. Pans: UNESCO, 1979. 

Grohmann 1971 Grohmann, Adolf. Arabische Paldographie. 2 vols. 

Vienna: Hermann Bohlaus Nachf , 1967, 1971. 

"Khatt" "Khatt," in Encyclopedia oj Islam, new series, vol. 
4, pp. 1 1 13-28. 

Lings 1977 Lings, Martin. The Qur'anic Art of Calligraphy and 
Illumination. London: World of Islam Festival 
Trust, 1977. 

Lings and Safadi Lings, Martin, and Yasin Hamid Safadi. The 
1976 Qur'an. London: British Library, 1976. 

Rosenthal 1948 Rosenthal, Franz. "Abu Haiyan al-Tawhidi on 
Penmanship." Ars Islamica 13-14 (1948): 1-3 1. 

Satadi 1978 Safadi, Yasin Hamid. Islamic Calligraphy. Boulder: 
Shambala Press, 1978. 

Schimmel 1970 Schimmel, Annemarie. Islamic Calligraphy. 
Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1970. 

Schimmel 1984 . Calligraphy and Islamic Culture. New York 

and London: New York University Press, 1984. 

Welch 1979 Welch, Anthony. Calligraphy in the Arts of the 

Muslim World. New York and Austin: Asia Society 
in cooperation with the University of Texas 
Press, 1979. 



Bibliography 151 



List of Names and Terms 

with life, period, and regnal dates 



Chinese 



Pinyii 



Wade-Giles 



Chinese Script 



Anyang 

Baiyang shanren 
(see Chen Shun) 

Baomuzhi 

Bao Shichen 
(1775-1855) 

bei 
bi 

Bo Juyi 
(772-846) 

Cai Yu 

(ca. 1472-1541) 

Cao 

caoshu 

Chan 

Chen Daofu 
(see Chen Shun) 

Chen Mengjia 
(191 1-1966) 

Chen Shun 
(1483-1544) 

Cheng Nanyun 
(act. 1400-1450) 

Cheng Wang 
(traditionally, 
1 1 15-1079 B.C.) 

Chu 

Congyu 

(see Zhang Heng) 
Dao 

Daoguang 
(r. 1821-50) 

Daozhou 

Datong 

dazhuan 

Ding 

Du Fu 

(712-770) 

Duhualu 



An-yang 

Pai-yang shan-jen 

Pao-mu-chih 
Pao Shih-ch'en 

pei 
Pi 

Po Chu-i 

Ts'ai Yii 

Ts'ao 

ts'ao-shu 

Ch'an 

Ch'en Tao-fu 
Ch'en Meng-chia 
Ch'en Shun 
Ch'eng Nan-yiin 
Ch'eng Wang 

Chu 

Ts'ung-yii 
Tao 

Tao-kuang 

Tao-chou 
Ta-t'ung 
ta-chuan 
Ting 
Tu Fu 

Tit-hna-Ui 



W -4- -tL- 



.1- ^ 



ft^ il C 



il-H-l 

T 



152 



Pinyin 



Dunhuang 
fangcun 
fangyi 
Fu 

Fu Qingzhu 
(see Fu Shan) 

Fu Shan 
( 1 607-1 684) 

Fujian 

Gansu 

Gao Ccn 

(act. mid-iyth C.) 
Gao Fu 

(act. mid-iyth C.) 

Ge Xuan 
(act. 3d C.) 

Gu Kaizhi 
(341-402) 

Guangdong 

Guangxi 

guichou 

Guizhou 

Guo Tienxi 

(ca. i235-ca.i302) 

HaiHng 

Han 

(206 B.C.-A.D. 220) 

Hangzhou 

Hanlin 

Hedong 

He Linghan 
(1772-1840) 

He Shaoji 
( 1 799-1 873) 

He Zizhen 
(see He Shaoji) 

Henan (Duke) 

Henan (province) 



Wade-Giles 


Chinese Script 


Tun— huang 




tang-ts'un 




fang-i 




Fu 




Fu Ch'ing-chu 




Fu Shan 




Fukien 




Kansu 




Kao Ts'en 




Kao Fu 


1 


Ko Hsiian 




Ku K ai-chin 




Kwangtung 




Kwangsi 




kuei-ch ou 




Kweichow 


-t +1-1 


Kuo T'ien-hsi 




Hai-Hng 




Han 


it 


Hangchow 




Han-lin 




Ho-tung 




Ho Ling-han 


»1 it 


Ho Shao-chi 




Ho Tzu-chen 




Honan 




Honan 





Pinyin 



Wade-Giles 



Chinese Script 



Huaguang 

Huaisu 

(ca. 73 5-800) 

Huang Gongwang 
(1269-1354) 

Huang Shen 
(1687-1768) 

Huang Tingjian 
(1045-1 105) 

Huang Yingpiao 
(1687-1768) 

Huanqlinyiini 

Hunan 

jiaguwen 

Jiangnan 

Jiangsu 

Jiangxi 

jiashen 

Jiaxing 

Jin 

(317-420) 
Jing Hao 

(act. early loth C.) 

jinshi 

jinwen 

Juyen 

kaishu 

Kangli Nao 

(see Kangh Naonao) 

Kangh Naonao 
(1295-1345) 

Kangh Zishan 

(see Kangli Naonao) 

Kong Rong 
(153-208) 

Kong Zhou 
(103-163) 

Kuaiji 

Lanting 



Hua-kuang 
Huai-su 

Huang Kung-wang 

Huang Shen 

Huang T'ing-chien 

Huang Ying-p"iao 

Hiiaiiq-t'iiig-ching 

Hunan 

chia-ku-wen 

Chiang-nan 

Kiangsu 

Kiangsi 

chia-shen 

Chia-hsing 

Chin 

Ching Hao 

chin-shih 
chin-wen 
Chu-yen 
k'ai-shu 
K'ang-li Nao 

K'ang-li Nao-nao 

K'ang-li Tzu-shan 

K'ung Jung 

K'ung Chou 

K'uai-chi 
Lan-t'ing 



f t ^ 



r t 



Names and Terms 15 3 



Pinyin 



Wade-Giles 



Chinese Script 



Pinyin 



Lantitig xu 
Laozi 

(act. 6th C. B.C.) 

Li Chang 
( I 027-1 090) 

Li GongUn 
(1049-1 106) 

Li Peng 

(ca. 1060-1110) 

Li Shanglao 
(see Li Peng) 

Li Si 

(d. 208 B.C.) 

Li Yangbing 
(act. 759-80) 

Li Yingzhen 
(1431-1493) 

Li Yiru 

(ca. 330-379) 

Li Yung 
(673-747) 

Li Ziho 
(act. ca. 1750) 

Li Ziming 
(see Li Ziho) 

Lianfu 

(see Yang Weizhen) 
Linji [J:Rinzai] 
Hshu 

Liu Gongquan 
(778-865) 

Loyang 

Lu 

liishi 

Ml Fu 

(1051-1 107) 

Min 
Ming 

(1368-1644) 
Ming Bao 



Lan-t'ing hsii 
Lao-tzu 

Li Ch'ang 

Li Kung-hn 

Li P'eng 

Li Shang-lao 

Li Szu 

Li Yang-ping 
Li Ying-chen 



Li I 



-ju 



Li Yung 

Li Tzu-ho 

Li Tzu-ming 

Lien-fu 

Lin-chi 
H-shu 

Liu Kung-ch'iian 

Loyang 
Lii 

lii-shih 
Ml Fu 

Min 
Ming 

Ming Pao 



f a. 



Muan Xiangtao 
[JiMokuan Shoto] 
(1611-1684) 

Nanjing 

Ni Zan 
(1301-1374) 

Nie 

Ouyang Xun 
(557-641) 

Pengze 

Qianlong 
(r. 1736-95) 

Qin 

(221-207 B.C.) 

Qing 

(1644-1911) 

Qingteng 

Qufu 

Sanxitang 

Shandong 

Shang 

(ca. 1523-1028 B.C.) 

Shangguan Zhou 
(1665-ca. 1749) 

Shanxi 

Shaoxing 

Shen Zhou 
( 1 427-1 509) 

Shengjiao xu 

Shitao 

( I 642-1 707) 

Shundi, Emperor 

Sichuan 

Song 

(960-1279) 
Songfeng 
Songjiang 
Songxue 

(see Zhao Mengfu) 



Wade-Giles 


Chinese Script 


^4u— an Flsiang— t ao 


^ li. iiul 


Nanking 




Ni Tsan 




Nieh 


ih 


Ou-yang Hsiin 




P'eng-tse 




Ch'ien-lung 




Ch'in 




Ch'ing 




Ch'ing-t'eng 




Ch*ii-fu 


^ J- 


Saii-hsi-t'ang 




Shantung 




Shang 


% 


Shang-kuan Chou 




Shansi 




Shao-hsing 




Shen Chou 




Sheng-chiao hsii 




Shih-t'ao 




Shun-ti 


ml f 


Szechwan 




Sung 




Sung-feng 




Sung-chiang 




Sung-hsiieh 







154 



Pinyin 



Wade-Giles 



Chinese Script 



Pinyin 



Wade-Giles 



Chinese Script 



Su Shi 
(1036-1 lOl) 

Sui 

(581-618) 



Su Shih 



Sui 



Suijinggong daoren Sui-ching-kung tao-jen /j^^^^'S^^ 



Sun Shouyong 
(act. ca.1225) 

Suzhou 

Tang 
(618-907) 

Tang Taizong, Emperor 
(r. 626-49) 

Tang Yin 
(1470-1523) 

Tao Qian 
(365-427) 

Tianfa Shencan 

Tianli 

(1328-30) 

tie 

Tieti daoren 

(see Yang Weizhen) 

Tieyai 

(see Yang Weizhen) 

Tingzhou 

Wang Bangxiang 
(act. ca. 1500) 

Wang Chong 
(1494-153 3) 

Wang Mcng 
(ca. 1301-1385) 

Wang Shouren 
(1472-1529) 

Wang Yangming 
(see Wang Shouren) 

Wang Xienzhi 
(344-386) 

Wang Xizhi 
(ca. 303-ca. 361) 

Wen Bi 

(see Wen Zhengming) 



Sun Shou-yung 

Soochow 
T'ang 

T'ang T'ai-tsung 

T'ang Yin 

T'ao Ch'ien 

T'ien-fa Shen-ts'an 
T'ien-li 

t'ieh 

T'ieh-t'i tao-jen 

T'ieh-yai 

T'ing-chou 
Wang Pang-hsiang 

Wang Ch'ung 

Wang Meng 

Wang Shou-jen 

Wang Yang-ming 

Wang Hsien-chih 

Wang Hsi-chih 

Wen Pi 



m if- 



iT -Hi 

i t >^ 



Wen Tong 
(1018-1079) 

Wen Zhengming 
(1470-1559) 

wenren 

Wu 

(220-280) 

Wu Changshuo 
(1844-1927) 

Wu Kuan 
(1435-1504) 

Wu Rangzhi 

(see Wu Tingyang) 

Wu Tingyang 
( I 799-1 879) 

Wu Xizai 

(see Wu Tingyang) 

Wu Zhen 
(1280-1354) 

Wuxing 

Xia Chang 
(1 388-1470) 

Xiao 

xiaozhuan 
Xin 

xingshu 

Xu Chunfu 

(act. early 20th C.) 

Xu Sangeng 
(I 806-1 890) 

Xu Wei 

(1521-1593) 

Xu Zhenqing 
(1479-1511) 

Yang Ningshi 
(873-954) 

Yang Weizhen 
(1296-1370) 

Yangzhou 

Yangming 

Yangzi 



Wen T'ung 

Wen Cheng-ming 

wen-jen 
Wu 

Wu Ch'ang-shuo 

Wu K'uan 

Wu Jang-chih 

Wu T'ing-yang 

Wu Hsi-tsai 

Wu Chen 

Wu-hsing 
Hsia Ch'ang 

Hsiao 

hsiao-chuan 
Hsin 

hsing-shu 
Hsii Ch'un-fu 

Hsu San-keng 

Hsu Wei 

Hsii Chen-ch'ing 

Yang Ning-shih 

Yang Wei-chen 

Yangchow 
Yang-ming 
Yangtze River 



^ a A]\ 

^ t% ik 



Names atld Tewis 155 



Pinyin 


Wade-Giles 


\/ '-71 ^ - 

Yen Znenqing 

(709-785) 


Yen Chen-ch'ing 


Yi 


I 


Yishan 


I-shan 


Yizheng 


I-cheng 


Yonglo, Emperor 
(r. 1403-24) 


Yung-lo 


Yuan 

(1279-1368) 


Yuan 


Yuan Yuzhi 
( I 499-1 576) 


Yiian Yii-chih 


Yuansou 


Yiian-sou 


Yuyao 


Yii-yao 


Zhang Heng 
(1914-1963) 


Chang Heng 


Zhang Jizhi 
(1166-1286) 


Chang Chi-chih 


Zhang Zhiho 
(act. 8th C.) 


Chang Chih-ho 


zhangcao 


chang-ts'ao 


Zhao Mengfu 
(1254-1322) 


Chao Meng-fu 


Zhao Wang 

/ /^J ^ TV/ \ 

(see Cheng Wang) 


Chao Wang 


Zhao Wenmin 
(sec Zhao Mengfu) 


Chao Wcn-min 


Zhao Zhiqian 
(i 829-1 884) 


Chao Chi-ch'ien 


Zhejiang 


Chekiang 


Zhengtong 
(r. 1436-49) 


Cheng-t'ung 


Zhenjiang 


Chen-chiang 


Zhizheng 
(r. 1341-68) 


Chih-cheng 


zhongdingwcn 


chung-ting-wen 


Zhou 

(ca. 1027-221 B.C.) 


Chou 


Zhou Lianggong 
(161 2-1672) 


Chou Liang-kunj 


Zhou Mi 
(1232-1298) 


Chou Mi 



Chinese Script 



Pinyin 



Wade-Giles 



Chinese Script 



J; ^'^f 

f 



4r< 



Zhu Hanzhi 

(act. mid-i7th C.) 

Zhu Yunming 
(1461-1527) 

zhuanshu 

Zhuda 

( 1 624-1 705) 

Zhuge 

Zhuyi daoren 
(see Fu Shan) 



Ziang 

(see Zhao Mengfu) 

Zou Fulei 

(ca. 1300-ca. 1360) 

Zou Fuyuan 

(ca. 1300-ca. 1360) 



Chu Han-chih 

Chu Yiin-ming 

chuan-shu 
Chu Ta 

Chu-ko 
Chu-i Tao-jen 

tzu 

Tzu-ang 
Tsou Fu-lei 
Tsou Fu-yiian 



If t 



156 



Japanese 



agedatami 

Bishamon-ten 

bokuseki 

bunjin 

Daitoku-ji 

Edo 

(1615-1868) 
Eiga taigai 
fude 
Fugen 
Fujiwara 

Fujiwara no Ariie 
(1155-1216) 

Fujiwara no Kinto 
(996-1041) 

Fujiwara no Kozei 

(see Fujiwara no Yukinari) 

Fujiwara no Nobuzane 
(ii76?-i265?) 

Fujiwara no Sadaie 
(see Fujiwara no Teika) 

Fujiwara no Sadanobu 
(1088-1156) 

Fujiwara no Shunzei 
(i 1 14-1204) 

Fujiwara no Tamcie 
(i 198-1275) 

Fujiwara no Teika 
(i 162-1241) 

Fujiwara no Yoshitsune 
(i 169-1241) 

Fujiwara no Yukinari 

(972-1027) 

Fushimi, Emperor 
(1265-13 17, r. 1287-98) 

fusuma 

gampishi 

Gion Nankai 
(1677-1751) 

Gomizunoo, Emperor 
(1596-1680, r. 1611-29) 



p1 & 1^1 ^ 



^> ^ '1^ 

m 'L iK 



Names and Terms 157 



Gonara, Emperor 


it ^> k K 'i. 


(1496-1557, r. 1526-57) 


Gosen wakashu (Gosenshii) 




gyosho 




Hachisuka 




Hayashi Kazan 
(1583-1657) 




Heian 




(794-1185) 


Heian-ky5 




hiragana 




Hokke-kyo 


vi M it 


Hon'ami K5etsu 
(1558-1637) 


f5[- lif. ^ 


Igarashi 


^ + I. 


Ishikawa 


^ nl 


Ishiyama-gire 




Jitsuin 

(act. ca. mid-i3th C.) 


t *f 


J66 

(1652-55) 




Kaga 




kaishi 




kaisho 




Kamakura 
(1185-1333) 




kambun 


it ^ 


Kan'ei 
(1624-44) 




Kan ci Sampitsu 




Kan-Fugen-bosatsu-gydbd-kyo 




kana 




kanji 




kasen-e 




Kasuga 




katakana ■ 1 . 


if liL/. 


keman 


# t 


Kenzan 
(1663-1743) 





Kii 


it if 


Ki no Tsurayuki 
(872?-ca.946) 




Koetsu 

(see Hon'ami Koetsu) 




Kogetsu Sogan 




(1574-1643) 


Kojima S5shin 
(i 580-ca. 1656) 




Kokin wakashu {Kokinshii) 




Konoe Nobutada 


iff ftt f't 




Korin 

(1658-1716) 




Koriyama 




Koya-gire 


y%J *T 


Kozei 

(see Fujiwara no Yukinari) 


fx K 


Kyoto 


t # 


Mampuku-ji 




Man 'yoshii 




Masatsune 

(act. early 17th C.) 




Matsuki Bunkyo 




( 1 867-1 940) 




Memyo bosatsu 


dera 

(see also Onj5-ji) 


' Ji- -i- 


mikaeshi-e 


^ ^ 


mikkyo 


It 


Minamoto no Kintada 




(d. 948) 




Mokuan Shoto [C: Muan Xingtao] 


;f 'fi 


(1611-1684) 


Momoyama 
(1573-1615) 




moriage 




Muromachi 
(1392-1573) 




Muryogi-kyo 




Myoho-renge-kyo 





158 



Nankai 

(see Gion Nankai) 




sosho 




suzuribako 


Nara 


Takagamine 






nezame 




tanka 


Nishi Hongan-ji 




Tanomura Chikuden 


Nobutada 

(see Konoe Nobutada) 


la f 


(1777-1835) 




tanzaku 


v-/uais.u 


tarashikonii 


Obaku Mokuan [C: Huangbo Muan] 






(see Mokuan Shoto) 


tatami 


Ogata Soken 




Tawaraya Sotatsu 


(1621-1687) 


(act. ca. 1600-1640) 


Oita 




Tempo 


Onakatomi no Yorimoto 
(885-957) 




tensho 


Onj6-ji 




tetteki [C:tiedi] 


(see also Mii-dera) 


Tetsuo Giko 


Osaka 




(1295-1369) 
tokonoma 


reisho 










Tokugawa 


Rinzai [C: Linji] 




(1615-1868) 


Saigu no Nyogo 
(929-985) 




Tokugawa Hidetada 
(1579-1632) 


Saigyo 




Tokugawa lemitsu 


(i 1 18-1206) 


(1604-1651) 


Sanjiirokkasen 




T6shodai-ji 


Sanjurokunin-shii 


^ ^ ^^#r 


tsugigami 


Sanmyaku-in 




Tsurayuki-shii 


Seson-ji 




uta-e 


shikishi 




uta-awase 


Shin kokiti wakashu 




waka 


Shokado Shojo 
(1584-1639) 




Wakan roeishil 


Shoren-in 




Wakayama 




wayo 


Shuho Myocho 
(1282-1337) 




Yakuo bosatsu 


Shui wakashu 




Yakushi Nyorai 


shuji 


it ^ 


Zen [C:Chan] 


sogana 






Soshin 






(act. ca. 1830) 







37 ii 27 

•J. 

ik- 'il 



Names and Terms 159 



Arabic, Persian, and Turkish 



Catalogue 



Encyclopedia of Islam 



Abbasid 

Abd al-Aziz Bahadur 
Khan 

(r. 1534-39) 

Abd al-Mahk 

(r. 685-705) 

Abdallah Jami 
(d. 1520-21) 

Abu Ismail Abdallah 

Ansari 

(1006-1088) 



'Abbasid 

'Abd al-'AzTz Bahadur 
Khan 



'Abd al-Mahk 
'Abdallah Djami 



Abu Isma'il 'Abdallah 
Ansari 



Abdur Rahman Jami 'Abd al-Rahman Djami 



Ahmad ibn Muhammad 
ibn Ahmad Asid 

Ahmed ibn Ibrahim 
Han el-MuzafFer Daima 
(r. 1691-95) 

Aishi ibn Ishrati 

Ah 

Ali ibn al-Husain 

Ali ibn al-Muhammad 

Ali ibn al-Musa 

Ali ibn Musa al-Riza 
(d. 818) 

al-kuti al-baghdadi 

al-kufi al-farisi 

al-Malik al-Mujahid 

Sayf ad-Din Ali ibn 

Dawud 

(r. 1322-63) 

al-Malik al-Zahir 
Shadhi 

al-Muqtadir 

(r. 908-32) 

al-Nasir Muhammad 
(r. 1294-95; 1299-1309; 
1309-40) 

al-Qahir 
(r. 932-34) 

al-Radi 
(r. 934-40) 



Ahmad ibn Muhammad 
ibn Ahmad AsTd 



Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al- 



MuzafFar 

'A'ishT ibn IshratT 
'All 

'All ibn al-Husayn 
'All ibn al-Muhmmad 
'Ah ibn al-Musa 
'Ah ibn Musa al-Rida 



al-kufi al baghdadi 
al-kufi al-farisi 



f Malik al-Mu^ahld ,;,<,;j;^J^^^J^J^\ 



Saif al-Din 'AllTbn 
Dawud 



al-Malik al-Zahir 
Shadhi 

al-Muktadir 



al-Nasir Muhammad 



al-Qahir 
al-Radi 



Allah 



Allah 



4a 1 



160 



Catalogue 



Encyclopedia of Islam 



Catalogue 



Encyclopedia of Islam 



Badr al-Din Lulu 
(d. 1259) 

Baghdad 

Bahram Mirza 
(i 507-1 549) 

basmala 

Baysunghur 

Biga 

Bihzad 

(d. 1536-37) 

Bukhara 

Daulatkhana 

Delhi 

divani 

Fatima 

Fatima bint Zaid 

Fatimid 

firman 

ghubar 

Haft Awraiig^ 

Ha ft Manzar 

hamza 

Hasan 

Hatifi 

(see Abdaliah Jami) 

Havin 

Herat 

Husain 

ibn al-Bawwab 
(d. 1022) 

ibn Muqla 
(d. 940) 

Ikhtiyar al-Munshi al- 
Sultani 

(see Kamal al-Din) 

il-Khanid 

(1256-1333) 



Badr al-Din Lu^ Lu' 

Baghdad 
Bahram Mirza 

basmala 
Baysunghur 
bigha 
Bihzad 

Bukhara 

Dawlatkhana 

DihlT 

diwani 

Fatima 

Fatima bint Zaid 

Fatimid 

farman 

ghubar 

Haft Awvang 

Haft Manzar 

hamza 

Hasan 

HatifT 

Havin 
Harat 
Husayn 

ibn al-Bawwab 

ibn Mukla 

Ikhtiyar al-Munshi' 
aT^ultani 

ilkhanid 




Iran 
Isfahan 

Iskandar Mirza 
(1384-1415) 

Istanbul 

Jafar al-Tabrizi 
(act. 1421-33) 

Jafar ibn Muhammad 

Jahangir 

(r. 1605-27) 

Junaid ibn Ammar al- 
Ala 

Kamal al-Din 
(d. 1556-57) 

Khamsa 

Khaqan 

Khidr 

Khorasan 

Khusrau u Shiriii 

kitabkhana 

kufic 

maghribi 

Mahdi 

mail 

Majd al-Mulk al- 

Muzalfar 

(d. 1221) 

Malik al-Dailami 
(d. 1561-62) 

Mamluk 
(1250-1517) 

Mashhad 

Masjid-i Shah 

Maulana Abdi 
(d. aft. 1540?) 

Mehmed Remi Pasha 

Mir All 

(see Mir Ali al-Husayni) 



Iran 
Isfahan 

Iskandar Mirza 
Istanbul 

Dja'^tar al-Tabrizi 

DjaYar ibn Muhammad 
Djahangir 



Djunayd ibn Ammar 
^^Ala' 

Kamal al-DTn 



Khamsa 

Khaqan 

Khidr 

Khurasan 

Khtisraw u Shiriii 

kitabkhana 

kutlc 

maghribi 

MahdT 

ma'il 

Madjd al-Mulk al- 
Muzaffar 

Malik al-Daylami 

Mamluk 

Mcshhed 
Masdjid-i Shah 
Mawlana 'Abdi 

Mehmed Rcmi Pasha 
Mir 'Ah 



--^ 



Names and Terms 161 



Catalogue 



Encyclopedia of Islam 



Catalogue 



Encyclopedia of Islam 



Mir Ali al-Husayni 
(d. 1556) 

Mir All al-Tabrizi 
(ca. 1 340-1 420) 

Mir Ali ibn Hasan al- 
Sultani 

(see Mir All al-Tabrizi) 

Mirza All 
(d. aft. 1560) 

Mirza Khwajagi 

Mughal 

Muhammad 

Muhammad ibn Ali 

muhaqqaq 

Muhibb Ali 
(d. aft. 1565) 

Mutiajat 

Mustafa II 
(r. 1695-1703) 

Muzaffar Ali 
(d. aft. 1576-77) 

naskh (or naskhi) 

nastaliq 

Nishapur 

Nizam ad-Din Abu 
Muhammad llyas 
Nizami 

(i 140/41-1202/3) 

Nur al-Din Jahangir 
(see Jahangir) 



Mir 'All al-Husayni 
Mir 'All al-Tabrizi 



Mir "All ibn Hasan al- 
Sultani 



Mirza 'Ah 

MTrza Khwajagi 
Mughal 
Muhammad 
Muhammad ibn 'All 
muhakkak 
Muhibb 'AH 

Munajat 
Mustafa II 

Muzaffar 'Ah 

naskh 
nasta 'lik 
Nishapur 

Nizam al-DTn Abu 
Muhammad llyas 
Nizami 

Nur al-Din Djahangir 



Qadi Ahmad 


Kadi Ahmad 




(d. aft. 1606) 






qalam 


kaiam 




Qazvin 


KazwTn 




Qum 


Kum 




Qur'an 


Kur'an 




Ramadan 


Ramadan 




rang nivisi 


rang-nivisi 




Rasulid 


Rasulid 





rihan 
riqa 

Rustam Ali 
(d. 1562-63) 

Safavid 

(i 501-1786) 

Salim al-Katib 
(d. 1582-83) 

Samanid 
(819-1005) 

Sarmin 

Shadhi ibn Muhammad 
ibn Ayyub 
(1281-1341/42) 

Shah Ismail 
(r. 1501-24) 

Shah Jahan 
(r. 1628-57) 

Shah Mahmud al- 

Nishapuri 

(d. 1574-75?) 

Shah Tahmasp 
(1524-76) 

Shahnama 

Shaybanid 
(i 500-1 598) 

Shaykh Auhad al-Din 
Nizami 

(see Nizam ad-Din Abu 
Muhammad llyas 
Nizami) 

Shaykh Hamdullah 
(d. 1520) 

Shaykh Muhammad 
(d. aft. 1570) 

Shaykh Zadch 
(d. aft. 1540) 

Shazi 

Shi'ite 

sukun 

Sultan Ahmed II 

(see Ahmed ibn Ibrahim 

Han el-Muzaffer Daima) 



rihan 
rika' 

Rustam 'AlT 
Safawid 
Salim al-Katib 
Samanid 



Sarmin 

ShadhT ibn Muhammad 
lEn Ayyub 



Shah Isma'il 



Shah Djahan 



Shah Mahmud al- 
NTshapurT 



Shah Tahmasp 

Shahnama 
Shaybanid 



Shaykh Auhad al-Din 
NizamT 



Shaykh Hamd Allah 

Shaykh Muhammad 

Shaykh Zade 

Shadi 
Shfte 
sukijn 

Sutan Ahmed 



^ .1 ■ » 



(1229-1454) 



162 



Catalogue 



Encyclopedia of Islam 



Sultan All 


Sultan 'Ah 




( I AA2—1 '\IQ) 






Sultan Ibrahim Mirza 
(1538-1577) 


Sultan Ibrahim MTrza 




Sultan Mirak 


Sultan MIrak 




(d. aft. 1540) 






Sultan Muhammad Nur 


Sultan Muhammad Nur 




(d. 1533) 






Sultan Ssnjsr 
(r. 1 1 18-57) 


Sultan Sandjar 


^^-^ (jw-A ■ It 


sura 


siira 




Tabriz 


Tabriz 




taliq 


ta'lik 




tarassul 


tarassul 


C% 


tashdid 


tashdid 




tauqi 


tawki' 




thuluth 


thuluth 




Timurid 


Timurid 




(i ^70—1 S06) 






tughra 


tughra 




tumar 


tumar 


> 


Umayyad 
(661-750) 


Umayyad 


- ^\ 


wasla 


wasla 




Yaqut al-Mustasimi 
(d. 1298) 


Yakut al-Musta'simi 




Yemen 


Yaman 




Zahir ad-Din 
Muhammad Babur 


Zahir ad-Din 
Muhammad Babur 




(r. 1526-30) 






zarrin qalam 


zarrin kalam 





Names and Tenns 163 



List of Accession and Catalogue Numbers 



By Catalogue Number Catalogue Number Accession Number 



I 


30.54 


2 


8i.4a,b,c,d 


3 


82.2 


4 


19. 119 


5 


80.7 


6 


80.8a 


7 


37-12 


8 


80.8b 


9 


31. 1 


lO 


16.184 


II 


10.6 


12 


82.33 


13 


80.21 


14 


80.2 


15 


8o.20a-b 


i6 


80.116 


17 


80.13 


i8 


82.7 


19 


80.3 


20 


68.60 


21 


74-13 


22 


69-4 


23 


50.24 


24 


1984-35 


25 


76.7 


26 


81. 1 


27 


81.16 


28 


03-309 


29 


02. 195 and 02. 196 


30 


76.8 


31 


44.22 


32 


81.12 


33 


80. 195 


34 


78. 1 1 


35 


76. 1 


36 


45. i6v 



Catalogue Number Accession Number 



37 


57-24 


38 


48.16 


39 


36.7 


40 


29.68r-29.69- 


41 


45.18 


42 


34-20 


43 


38.15 


44 


48.9r-32.1v 


45 


31.29 


46 


37-35 


47 


34-17 


48 


48.28r 


49 


56.14 


50 


29.64 


51 


46. 12 


52 


54. ii6r 


53 


39-45 


54 


40.9 


55 


1985.16 



164 



By Accession Number 



Accession Number 



Catalogue Number 



Accession Number Catalogue Number 



02. 195 and 02. 196 29 

03.309 28 

10.6 II 
16.184 10 
19. 119 4 
29.64 50 
29.68r-29.69v 40 
30.54 I 
311 9 
3129 45 
3417 47 
34.20 42 

36.7 39 
37-12 7 

37- 3 5 46 

38- 15 43 

39- 45 53 
40.9 54 
44.22 31 
45.16V 36 
45.18 41 
46.12 51 
48.9r-32.1v 44 
48.16 38 
48.28r 48 
50.24 23 
54. Ii6r 52 
56.14 49 

57-24 37 

68.60 20 

69.4 22 

74-13 21 

76-1 35 

76.7 25 

76-8 30 

78.11 34 



80.2 14 

80.3 19 
80.7 5 
80.8a 6 
80.8b 8 
80.13 17 
8o.2oa-b 15 
80.21 13 
80.116 16 
80.195 33 

81. 1 26 
8i.4a,b,c,d 2 
81.12 32 
81.16 27 

82.2 3 
82.7 18 
82.33 12 
1984.35 24 
1985.16 55 



Accession and Catalogue Numbers 165 



Chinese and Japanese calligraphy by Shen Fu 
Arabic calligraphy by Muhammad Zakariya 
Typeset in Bembo by Graphic Composition, Inc. 
Printed on Mohawk Superfine loo lb. text 
by The Meriden Gravure Company 
Edited by Jane McAllister 
Designed by Carol Beehler